This page explains some of the reasons you may be experiencing sexual problems and what you can expect when you come to the clinic.
What is erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is where a man is unable to get or maintain an erection adequate for sexual activity. There are two main types of ED - physical and psychological (emotional).
For many heart patients, ED is caused by a narrowing of the arteries (blood vessels) supplying the penis. The same process that ‘furs’ up the arteries supplying the heart muscle can also fur up arteries in other parts of the body, including those that supply the penis. Many heart patients suffer with erection problems before they are diagnosed with a heart problem.
ED may also be caused by the fear that sexual intercourse may cause angina or even a heart attack. For most patients, a combination of both physical and emotional factors contributes to ED.
Cardiac outpatient department
Ground floor, North Wing
St Thomas' Hospital
Westminster Bridge Road
London SE1 7EH
Appointment queries: 020 7188 2000
The clinic has been designed to be a one-stop clinic. This means we will check your heart condition as well as your ED, aiming to start treatment on your first visit. However, some patients need to visit more than once for further investigations, before we start treatment.
Before your appointment
All advice and clinic consultations are completely confidential. Please remember to follow the instructions on your appointment letter when you come to your first appointment.
If you have a partner, they would be most welcome to attend the clinic with you, but you can come on your own.
What to expect at your appointment
You will be seen by a cardiac nurse specialist, who will take your medical history and do a physical examination. You may need investigations such as an exercise test (treadmill test), ultrasound or blood tests. These investigations are done to make sure that you are able to engage in sexual activity safely. For most heart patients, we expect this to be the case.
The nurse will discuss the sexual problems you are experiencing with you as well as treatment options available.
Please note: all patients can attend the clinic on the NHS, but there is a limited budget for drug treatments. Certain groups of patients can receive treatment for ED on the NHS. If you are not able to receive treatment on the NHS and decide to use medication to treat our ED, you will be given a private prescription by your GP. You will not be charged for receiving this, but you will need to pay for your medication.
The nurse will explain whether you are entitled to treatment on the NHS or not when he/she talks about your treatment options.
After your appointment
Your progress will be monitored in a follow-up clinic with the cardiac nurse specialist, who will offer support to you and your partner if you have one.
If you have questions about your appointment
If you or your partner has any questions about what happens during your appointment, please phone one of the cardiac nurse specialists on 020 7188 0727. They may not be able to return your call immediately, but will aim to do so, as soon as possible.
For enquiries about your appointment, call 020 7188 2000.
Male cardiovascular patient leaflets
See the male cardiovascular patient leaflets page to see a list of leaflets produced by our department.