There's a popular misconception out there that Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is a condition that only affects men as they age. Although there are natural declines in testosterone and libido as men reach their senior years, these factors are not always the underlying cause of ED— especially for men under the age of 40. Believe it or not, studies in the last few years have found that ED is increasingly affecting younger men and now even affects juniors in their teenage years. That's right, even those who are in their prime childbearing years are not immune to the fury of ED. To better understand this bizzare phenomenon, we need to answer two questions:
What exactly is this condition known as ED? And what are the main factors that contribute to it?
Erectile Dysfunction, also known as impotence, is medically defined as a consistent or recurrent inability to attain and/or maintain penile erection sufficient for sexual satisfaction (1). We want to emphasize the key word recurrent in the definition. If you're really tired one day, or you had a grueling day work, and you come home and find that you're just not in the mood to "get it up" for your partner that does not automatically mean you have ED. Even if that happens two days in a row, it does not mean you have ED. Or even if it happens for a week straight — don't panic, Brother! Now, if you have been in good health and you are with a partner that you enjoy and generally feel sexually attracted to (we hate to say it, but you know this matters), and you can't "get it up" for several weeks in a row, then you might have more grounds to make the assumption that you have ED. But let's not jump the gun and start panicking just because your soldier doesn't feel like taking the stand every time.
So now that we have a better understanding of the condition, let's talk about what causes ED. Everybody and their Dad has a different theory on what causes impotence. We have heard everything from, "You're not jerking off enough," to "You're not exercising enough." Or our new favorite one,"You were cursed by a witch." (No seriously, read about penis-snatching witches here.) Whatever the prevailing belief, we are here to share some of the scientifically and medically backed factors that we believe are major contributors (2).
Physical Causes of ED
- Blood and Circulation Conditions
(High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Clogged Arteries, Weak Circulation, Heart Problems, Heart Disease, Diabetes)
- Hormonal Imbalance
(Low Testosterone, Low Libido, High Estrogen, High Prolactin, High Cortisol)
- Diet and Lifestyle
(Nutrient Deficiency, Obesity, Tobacco Use, Alcoholism, Work Habits)
- Medications and Chronic Illnesses
(Over-the-counter or Prescription Drug Side Effects, Sleep Disorder Medications, Hair Loss Prevention Medications *we're sorry to break this one to you, but read more about it here*)
Psychological Causes of ED
- Depression and Mood Disorders
- Mental Health Disorders
- Stress and PTSD
- Relationship Problems (We can help you deal with this one here, Brother)
- Falsely believing you have ED when the occurrance is not yet consistent or persistent enough to constitute as a condition (We don't want you jumping the gun with your self-assessment)
To read a more comprehensive list of causes from Matthew Ziegelmann, M.D visit Mayo Clinic here.
Erectile dysfunction is no longer seen as an age related condition. These physical and psychological causes above can impact men of any and all ages. In fact, the number of men in western countries under the age of 40 now seeking treatment for ED is increasing every year. Studies have found that 40% of men in US have sought out some form of ED treatment by the time they reach age 40 (3). So rest assured that you are not alone if you're reading this right now. This community is growing and we're working around the clock to find solutions to this condition affecting men of all ages.
If you've enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with others in your community. Keep on, Brother.
1. McCabe MP, Sharlip ID, Atalla E, et al. Definitions of Sexual Dysfunctions in Women and Men: A Consensus Statement From the Fourth International Consultation on Sexual Medicine 2015. J Sex Med 2016; 13:135-43. 10.1016/j.jsxm.2015.12.019 [PubMed]
2. Matthew Ziegelmann, M.D. What is Erectile Dysfunction? A Mayo Clinic Expert Explains. [MayoClinic]
3. Wood, Hadley and Milton Lakin, MD. Erectile Dysfunction 2018. Cleveland Clinic [PubMed]