Although erectile dysfunction (ED) is usually associated with the over 40s, it is also a common problem for young men. A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (July 2013) found that 1 in 4 patients who were newly diagnosed with ED were under 40. Almost half of these young men suffered from severe ED.
Erectile dysfunction 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.
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.
What causes 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
What are the treatments for erectile dysfunction in young men?
ED is treated differently depending on the underlying cause.
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.
Obesity, smoking and lack of 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.
There are four main prescription-only medicines which are used to treat erectile dysfunction in young men: Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis, Levitra and Spedra. You can purchase all of 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.
The two main physical treatments are vacuum pumps and constriction rings. 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 are used to maintain an erection. A ring is placed around the base of the penis, trapping blood and keeping it hard for longer.
This 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.
For more information, see Erectile Dysfunction Treatments.