Taking part in group psychotherapy can help men who have erectile dysfunction to overcome their problem, and adding sildenafil to group therapy was more effective that sildenafil alone. In addition, group psychotherapy was more effective than taking sildenafil on its own, a Cochrane Systematic Review has found.

Normal sexual function relies on the coordination of psychological, endocrine, vascular and neurological factor. Recent research has increased attention on the role of psychological issues. In particular, depression, low self-esteem, anxiety and other psychosocial stresses can play a large role in erectile dysfunction.

A team of Cochrane Researchers drew data from nine randomised trials and two quasi-randomised trials. These involved 398 men with erectile dysfunction who had been given psychotherapy, medication, psychotherapy plus medication or vacuum devices. A further 59 were in non-treatment control groups.

“We found that 95% of men in the psychosocial therapy group benefited from the treatment, while there was no change in over the same period of time in the controls,” says Professor Tamara Melnik, a psychiatrists working at the Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil.

“We now need some large randomised trials with longer follow-up periods in order to measure exactly how effective psychosocial therapy can be. This research will need to group the men carefully, and also consider different forms of psychosocial treatment,” says Melnik.

“One problem with psychosocial therapy is that we are still uncertain which patients are most likely to benefit from it and if effectiveness depend upon personality factors, psychiatric co-morbid diagnosis, length of therapy time,” says Melnik.