Prevalence and characteristics of erectile dysfunction in black and mixed race primary care populations of the Cape Flats and Helderberg Basin area of the Western Cape, South Africa

  • H De Klerk MBChB, MFamMed, DCH, MBA, Department of Family Medicine & Primary Care, University of Stellenbosch
  • PJT De Villiers MBChB, MFamMed, DOM, Hons BScMedSci(Epid), PhD. Department of Family Medicine & Primary Care, University of Stellenbosch
  • S Isaacs MBCS, PhD, Department of Medical Informatics, University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital


Objective: To estimate the prevalence of erectile dysfunction (ED) among users of primary care in a Black and Mixed Race urban population in the Western Cape, and to describe any associated health and psychosocial factors.

Design: Cross-sectional survey by interviewer administered questionnaire.

Setting: Two primary care medical centres, 40km apart, in Cape Town metropolitan area. Serve different ethnic groups, with no cross-contamination between them. Study period: March-June 1999

Patients: 833 Males (35-70 years old) attending these health centres for primary care. Systematic selection of all attendees.

Main outcome measures: Prevalence of ED and presence of associated health and psychosocial factors. Describe patient demographics, physical attributes, sexual relationships.

Results: Results of 730 males with current sexual partners: Mean ages 48 years (SD:7 years) all; 46 years (SD:9 years) Black group; 51 years (SD: 9 years) Mixed Race group. All degrees of ED prevalence: All 77.1% (95% CI: 74.0-80.2), Black 76.4% (95% CI: 71.8-80.4) and Mixed Race 77.7% (95% CI: 72.8-82.0). Significantly associated diseases: hypertension, diabetes, gastrointestinal and heart disease. Alcohol consumption (younger patients), smoking (older patients) significantly related to ED. Males with ED: more sexual partners than males without ED. More than 90% choose primary care physician/ generalist as primary ED care-giver.

Conclusions: ED is very common in both study groups. Primary care workers must be prepared to manage associated risk factors and health implications. ED sufferers in this population may also be at higher risk for sexually transmitted diseases due to multiple sexual partners.

(SA Fam Pract 2003;45(1):14-20)

Keywords: erectile dysfunction, impotence, prevalence, blacks

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2078-6204
print ISSN: 2078-6190