Pharmacists are experts in medicines and a crucial part of healthcare delivery. They train for five years to qualify: usually a four-year MPharm degree, that includes physiology, biochemistry, microbiology and clinical practice, and a year of pre-registration training.
So when you talk to a pharmacist, you are getting sound advice from a highly-trained medical professional, without even needing to make an appointment.
All very straightforward when you want advice about coughs and colds, or aches and pains. But what happens when you need some medical advice about a problem that you consider embarrassing or awkward: sexual, gastrointestinal or urinary problems, or erectile dysfunction (ED), perhaps?
“Come and talk to us,” says Vijaya Reddy, a community pharmacist. “We’re good at listening and can give you great advice. And we always recommend you see your GP if we suspect there’s a bigger issue that we can’t deal with.”
So what about those awkward questions about sex? Over to you Vijaya…
Do I have to speak to you where we can be overheard?
Very few of us want to divulge an embarrassing or awkward medical problem in front of other customers buying shampoo or corn plasters. Don’t worry – you won’t have to. 90% of pharmacies in the UK have a private consultation room or area where you can chat discreetly to a pharmacist.
Simply ask one of the counter staff if you can have a private chat with the duty pharmacist (you don’t even have to mention what it’s about) and they’ll arrange it for you. “We’re very discreet,” confirms Vijaya.
Can I talk openly to you?
There’s nothing that’s medically off-limits when you talk to a pharmacist. They are trained in all aspects of healthcare, including sexual and reproductive health, and erectile dysfunction. From performance anxiety to worries about the effects of erectile function on wider health issues, Vijaya says: “There’s nothing we haven’t come across before.”
Will you have to examine me?
Pharmacists won’t give you a physical examination or ask probing questions about your sex life. They’re interested in your general health, whether you have any existing medical conditions and what, if any, medications you are currently taking.
“We check that any prescription medicine you’re taking won’t clash with an over-the-counter treatment,” says Vijaya.
Will you make me see my doctor?
Because of their medical training, and the questions they ask you, a pharmacist will try to help themselves, and often can. But if they spot a problem that may need further medical examination, they will not hesitate to recommend that you make an appointment with your GP.
For example, you may have something that doesn’t seem to be getting better despite treatment, or a condition that makes an over-the-counter medicine unsuitable for you.
Your pharmacist consultation won’t be noted on your medical records. “If we have any concerns about a diagnosis, or your prescription medicines, we’ll always suggest you see your GP,” says Vijaya.
Can you recommend things other than medicines?
As well as being able to offer over-the-counter medicines that they believe are suitable for you, pharmacists can give sound advice about lifestyle, especially when making changes that will positively impact your health. Stopping smoking, getting more exercise, healthy eating and weight loss are all things that your pharmacist will be able to help you with.
I’m worried my medicine may be causing side effects
Because pharmacists are experts in medicines, and they dispense prescription medicines as well, they are the go-to healthcare professional if you’re worried you’re not taking it correctly or if you’re experiencing side effects.
You can walk straight into the pharmacy without an appointment and get advice about your medicine. “We check all medicines before we give them to patients so you can be sure the ones you receive are appropriate and safe,” concludes Vijaya.
VIAGRA Connect® is the first medicine available without a prescription in the UK to help men with erectile dysfunction. VIAGRA Connect® is available to buy from the pharmacy and registered online pharmacies.
VIAGRA Connect® 50mg film coated tablets. Contains Sildenafil. For erectile dysfunction in adult men. Always read the leaflet.
For more information on ED and VIAGRA Connect®, visit viagraconnect.co.uk.