Impotence in Younger Men – It’s more common than you think.
Who gets erectile dysfunction (ED)? You might think it happens only to older men. It’s true that ED becomes more frequent as men age, but it can happen in younger men as well. While most people associate impotence and ED as “old guy” problems – more and more young men are being diagnosed with erectile dysfunction.
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection suitable for sexual intercourse. Causes include medications, chronic illnesses, poor blood flow to the penis, drinking too much alcohol, or being too tired.
A penile erection is the hydraulic effect of blood entering and being retained in sponge-like bodies within the penis. The process is most often initiated as a result of sexual arousal, when signals are transmitted from the brain to nerves in the penis. The most important organic causes of impotence are cardiovascular disease and diabetes, neurological problems (for example, trauma from prostatectomy surgery), hormonal insufficiencies (hypogonadism) and drug side effects.
Having erection trouble from time to time isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. If erectile dysfunction is an ongoing issue, however, it can cause stress, affect your self-confidence and contribute to relationship problems. Problems getting or keeping an erection can also be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs treatment and a risk factor for heart disease.
Who gets Erectile Dysfunction?
The answer is – lots of guys! Erectile dysfunction affects an estimated 18 million men in the United States alone. With over 30% of men suffering from ED at some point in their lives, this means that literally hundreds of millions of men around the world suffer from the devastating effects of ED.
If you pay attention to the media, you might think that erectile dysfunction (ED) happens only to older men. The ads for ED medications tend to show men with salt and pepper hair discussing how their improved erections helps them feel young again. Comedians may joke about an elderly man’s sex life – or lack of it.
It’s true that the chances of developing ED increase with age. Many medical conditions associated with ED, such as diabetes and heart disease, start occurring as men get older. However, the statistics show that ED affects a considerable number of younger men as well?
ED Studies on Young Men
In 2017, Sexual Medicine Reviews published a study that focused on ED younger men. The authors estimated that just over half of men between 40 and 70 have erection problems to some extent. But younger men are still affected.
Research showed the following results:
- In a multinational study of almost 28,000 men, 11% of men in their 30s and 8% of men in their 20s had ED.
- A Swiss study of over 2,500 men between the ages of 18 and 25 found that around 30% of men had some degree of ED.
- An Italian study revealed an increase in ED in men under 40, with rates rising from 5% to 2010 to over 15% in 2015.
It’s important to understand that the severity of ED can vary. Some men with ED can’t get erections at all. Others have trouble occasionally. And others feel that their erections aren’t as firm as they’d like.
ED rates could be higher than reported, too. A lot of men aren’t comfortable discussing their erections with a doctor, so they suffer in silence. Some doctors might not realize that ED affects younger men and may not ask about sexual health.
Causes of Erectile Dysfunction in Young Men
ED can be caused by both physical and psychological issues, and sometimes there are a combination of factors involved.
The study authors discovered several possibilities:
- Vascular problems. A rigid erection depends on good blood flow to the penis. If anything obstructs that flow, such as plaque buildup in blood vessels, an erection might be difficult to achieve.
- Hormonal disorders. Conditions like diabetes, over- or under-active thyroid, Klinefelter syndrome, and others can interfere with erectile function.
- Nervous system disorders. Men with multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, spinal cord injury, or other nervous system disorders may have trouble with erections because important messages from the brain can’t “connect” with the genitals.
- Medication side effects. Many medications, such as antidepressants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), and antipsychotics have sexual side effects, including erectile dysfunction.
- Psychological and emotional concerns. Erectile dysfunction can also occur in men with depression and anxiety. Relationship issues can play a role as well.
- Smoking and illicit drug use. In another study, published in 2013 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, younger men with ED were more likely to smoke or use recreational drugs compared to their older counterparts. Marijuana in particular has been linked to erectile problems. The drug’s active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), interacts with proteins called cannabinoid receptors. This interaction can impair normal functioning in the brain. Research has shown that it may affect the penis as well.
What Can Younger Men Do About ED?
If you only experience occasional erection issues, consider taking a natural male sexual enhancement supplement, as they contain a number of ingredients to improve erectile blood flow (like Viagra does), and other performance enhancing ingredients which can help with sexual stamina and climax intensity. Consider taking a sexual enhancer for a few months and see if you notice an improvement in your erections.
If you’re having more regular problems with erections, take it seriously. Talk to your doctor. If your ED is a symptom of another medical condition, start treatment. You might need to make some lifestyle changes or go on medication, but taking care of the situation now can help you enjoy more sex in the future.