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    Information on Erectile dysfunction in young men

    On this page
    1. What is erectile dysfunction?
    2. Is erectile dysfunction common in young men? 
    3. Causes of erectile dysfunction in young men
    4. Can you fix erectile dysfunction naturally?

    Erectile dysfunction (ED) is often associated with older men, but it’s a condition that affects men of all ages. It’s estimated that ED affects one in five men in the UK, which could be up to 4.3 million men.

    2019 review of studies into the condition suggested up to half of men under the age of 50 experience the condition, with rates doubling in the last 25 years. 

    So why is ED affecting more young men than previously? In this article we going to focus on erectile dysfunction in young men, the possible causes and treatments that are available. 

    What is erectile dysfunction?

    Erectile dysfunction (otherwise known as impotence) is the inability to get or maintain an erection which is firm enough for successful sexual intercourse.

    For some men it can mean the penis becomes partly erect, but for others it doesn’t get erect at all.  

    Is erectile dysfunction common in young men? 

    ED is typically associated with older men. But it’s thought that’s it fairly common in young men too. The 2019 Kings College review of studies into the condition we previously mentioned, cites a Brazilian study which found ED was experienced by 36.5% 18–25-year-olds, and 30.7% of those aged 26-40. 

    Another US survey found that 26% of men under 40 were affected by ED, with half of those men has severe ED. 

    Causes of erectile dysfunction in young men

    The causes of erectile dysfunction in young men are similar to those for older men, and include both physical and psychological causes. Here are some of the most common:

    Psychological causes of ED in young men


    Anxiety is the most common cause of erectile dysfunction in young men. This can include nervousness about getting your partner pregnant, losing your erection while putting a condom on, or your sexual performance. This often creates a negative spiral, because failure to achieve an erection causes yet more anxiety and stress. Depression, anxiety and stress can also cause ED by reducing libido.


    Stress is also a common cause of ED. If you’re distracted by situations at work or at home, it might impact your ability to get an erection. You also might not feel in the mood to have sex.  


    Depression can affect your sex drive, which might affect your ability to have sex and get an erection. 

    Physical causes of ED in young men

    Narrow blood vessels

    High blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking and diabetes can all lead to the narrowing of your blood vessels. This restricts blood flow to the penis and reduces the chance of getting a firm erection. If there is a family history of heart disease in a relation under the age of 40 then your risk is increased.

    Hormonal imbalance

    Using steroids to build up your muscles can put you at higher risk of ED. Other hormonal causes include abnormally high or low levels of thyroid hormone or prolactin (a hormone produced by the pituitary gland).


    Some common drugs can cause erectile dysfunction, such as those prescribed for depression, heart conditions and blood pressure. However, you should talk to your doctor before you stop or change them. Drinking heavily and using illegal drugs can also contribute towards erectile dysfunction in young men.

    Anatomical causes

    Certain conditions which change the penis can cause ED, such as Peyronie’s (a bending in the penis when it is erect), phimosis (a tight foreskin) and a tight frenulum (the piece of skin joining the foreskin the penis shaft).

    For more information, see erectile dysfunction causes.

    Can you fix erectile dysfunction naturally?

    Lifestyle changes are a good place to start if you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction. Smoking, being overweight and not getting enough exercise can result in narrow blood vessels, which is a cause of ED. Losing weight, quitting smoking and getting fit may therefore help resolve the problem. Men who drink heavily or use illegal drugs may find that giving up these activities helps their ED.

    Treatment for ED in young men

    ED is treated differently depending on the underlying cause. It can be an embarrassing topic, particularly for young men, but it is important to bear in mind that the problem affects millions of other men, and that there are many treatment options available. It may not be something you feel comfortable discussing with your friends, but make sure you get medical advice if you are worried.

    Psychological treatment

    Counselling or therapy may help deal with stress, depression or performance anxiety and can be combined with medicines which treat the ED in the short term.

    Physical treatments

    The two main physical treatments are vacuum pumps and constriction rings. 

    Vacuum pumps

    A vacuum pump is a cylinder which is placed over the penis. The air is then pumped out of it, gently ‘forcing’ the penis to become erect.

    Constriction rings

    Constriction rings are used to maintain an erection. A ring is placed around the base of the penis, trapping blood and keeping it hard for longer.


    Surgery is usually the last option for men with ED. Implants can be inserted into the penis, allowing it to bend upwards for sex and downwards to urinate. Inflatable implants form an erection by filling with fluid.


    There are four main prescription-only medicines which are used to treat erectile dysfunction in young men:

    Our clinicians can prescribe these erectile dysfunction medicines through our discreet online service. They all work in roughly the same way, by opening up the arteries which supply blood to the penis. This allows blood to fill the erectile tissue in the penis, and for an erection to be achieved and maintained.

    For more information, see erectile dysfunction treatments.

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