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Looking at the Market for 'ED' Remedies

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Wonder why you can seldom watch a sports telecast without hearing about four-hour erections when the commercials come on? A report issued this month by AARP should solve the mystery. As the chart here shows, erectile dysfunction (tactfully abbreviated in ads as "ED") is a common affliction, even among men who aren't old enough to be collecting Social Security.

Moreover, polling for the report (fielded last summer) finds a vast gap between the number of men 45-plus who've been diagnosed with ED/impotence (23 percent) and the number who've been treated for it (7 percent). By comparison, 41 percent have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, and 34 percent have been treated for it.

Asked if they've used various kinds of prescription drugs in the past six months, 10 percent said they have taken "medications to improve sexual functioning." In a breakdown by age, the proportion saying they've taken such drugs ranged from 6 percent of the 45-49-year-olds to 13 percent of the 60-69s.

It's not as though men would necessarily be pondering the higher questions of human existence if the commercials for ED medications didn't keep dragging their attention to sex. Forty-five percent said they have "sexual thoughts, fantasies or erotic dreams" at least once a day. Among those who ever have sexual fantasies, 45 percent muse about "sex with a stranger," 30 percent about "sex with more than one person at the same time" and 20 percent about "sex with a celebrity, such as a famous movie star."

Whether because of or despite all these sexual thoughts, 58 percent of respondents agreed that "There is too much emphasis on sex in our culture today."