Oral treatments for ED are very widely used. Consequently, there are a number of different ways to get ED treatment.

However, not all men are entitled to treatment for erectile dysfunction on the NHS, and so may seek treatment privately. 

What is private health treatment? 

Private health treatment is defined as any health service (for example: consultations, prescriptions, treatment options and operations) a person receives which isn’t paid for by the state (the government). 

In the UK, most people qualify for state funded healthcare - which is much more commonly referred to as ‘given on the NHS’. 

Men with certain conditions are eligible for ED treatment on an NHS prescription, but in other cases they may not be.

Anyone can seek private treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED) given they can afford it. There are several different types of healthcare and treatments that fall under the term ‘private.’ It helps to be aware so people can weigh up their options. 

NHS GPs can issue private prescriptions for certain treatments and they can refer patients to private specialists with prescribing credentials. In the case of ED, they may refer you to a private urologist (someone who specialises in male sexual and reproductive health). 

People can also sign for a private health insurance policy, with a provider like Bupa, for example. Consultations and appropriate treatment for ED might be included in a policy. 

People can also seek prescriptions for ED treatment online. However, people should exercise caution when doing so. Always make sure an online pharmaceutical company is operating legally and employs medical professionals with real prescribing licenses. 

Why would someone seek ED treatment privately? 

Sildenafil, the generic version of Viagra, is the most typically prescribed NHS treatment for erectile dysfunction. To obtain most other ED treatment options, including branded Viagra, a private prescription must usually be sought. 

However, people may seek out private treatment for a number of other reasons, including: 

  • there being a long wait time for an NHS appointment
  • not having the time or availability to make it to an NHS appointment
  • wanting to have treatment from a specific service or consultant
  • or wanting a second opinion on treatment or advice received from the NHS.

How much does private ED treatment cost?

Depending on the type of medication, dosage, quantity and place from where it is sought, the cost of private erectile dysfunction treatment can vary. There are also certain advantages and disadvantages of some over others. 

NHS GP privately prescribing or referring

“You’re entitled to ask for a referral for specialist treatment on the NHS. But whether you’ll get the referral depends on what your GP feels is clinically necessary in your case.”

It’s unlikely they would refer you unless they suspected there was a more severe, underlying health condition at play. Additionally, they will typically refer you to a specialist within the NHS - and not one privately operating. 

Sildenafil, which is the generic version of Viagra, is the most widely prescribed NHS treatment for ED. Branded Viagra and others - Cialis, Spedra and Levitra, for example - will only be prescribed under very specific circumstances with the NHS. These drugs are typically much easier to acquire privately.

However, NHS GPs can prescribe these treatments privately. This will mean paying full price for the prescribed medication and not the standard rate of £9 offered by the NHS. GPs are also not obliged to offer private prescribing services for free. 

Private doctor or insurance policy

A health insurance policy is perhaps what people typically think of when they imagine ‘private healthcare.’ Examples of private healthcare providers in the UK include Bupa, Vitality Health and Aviva.  

Private healthcare includes consultations, usually as and when required, tests, surgery and prescription treatment. Usually, patients pay a monthly fee which is known as a premium. Most people who have private health insurance still use and have a relationship with the NHS. This will depend largely on the type of policy. 

However, private healthcare can help patients to access treatments much quicker than the state-funded alternative, gives them more say over who they consult with, and can offer treatments not readily available with the NHS. 

There are disadvantages to private healthcare as well. They often won’t cover people with chronic conditions, can raise premiums given certain circumstances (if you smoke, for example), they can’t treat people in an emergency, premiums can be expensive and a lot of treatments they would offer are available with the NHS. 

While a condition like erectile dysfunction can interfere greatly with a person’s overall quality of life, and may impose emotional strain on relationships, seeking a private insurance policy might be something of an unnecessary step if ED is mainly what you suffer with. 

Private treatment for erectile dysfunction online 

Online pharmacies are becoming an ever-present section of UK healthcare. Today, a lot of online pharmacies provide users with a clinical questionnaire (based on their symptoms and general health) which is reviewed by a medical professional. This serves as what would normally be an in-person consultation. 

On Treated.com, Sildenafil starts at £9.99 for four tablets (including consultation fee, prescription and next day delivery). So some online pharmacies can offer treatment at an affordable rate.

What some people may not realise is that if they buy medicines online, they are doing so privately. Online pharmacies enable people suffering with erectile dysfunction to access a much broader range of drugs and treatments that they otherwise would not have been able to access. 

There are several advantages to ordering treatment privately online. It’s usually a simple and quick process, and some offer next day delivery services. Additionally, there is often a discretionary element to the online pharmaceutical process which some men prefer. Opening up about ED can often be difficult and much harder to do in-person than online. 

But it’s vital to choose an online pharmacy that is safe and operating legally (if they are, they will be on the GPhC register). 

Private treatment from a supermarket

In early 2018 Viagra Connect became a pharmacy medicine for erectile dysfunction, meaning it can now be purchased without a prescription. 

If you wish to purchase this version of Viagra from a supermarket or high street pharmacy, the pharmacist will still need to perform a quick consultation with you to ensure it is suitable. 

Viagra Connect is only available to purchase in 50mg. If 50mg does little to improve the symptoms you’re suffering from, it is likely you’ll need to consult with a medical professional about attaining a prescription for a higher dosage. 

Viagra Connect will typically cost around £30 for four pills. Again, if you get Viagra Connect in a pharmacy or supermarket - this also counts as receiving ‘private’ health treatment.

Page last reviewed:  24/07/2020