According to a new analysis, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, the number of young men suffering from erectile dysfunction may be much higher than previously thought.

Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence or ED, occurs when a man is unable to sustain an erection which is sufficient for sexual intercourse.

Prime treatment options for ED are the drugs Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. However, according to a study presented at the 28th Annual EAU Congress, despite the high prevalence of ED, most patients receive no treatment.

Previous research, led by physician-scientists at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, revealed that 65 percent of men with ED are unable to have an orgasm and 58 percent have problems with ejaculation.

Most erectile dysfunction (ED) complaints are among men above the age of 40 and prevalence increases with age.

However, the risk and prevalence of erectile dysfunction among young people hasn’t been looked at very thoroughly.

Researchers have identified that one quarter of men seeking help for ED are younger than 40. Half of these men reported severe ED.

Paolo Capogrosso, MD, of the University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, in Milan, Italy, and his team assessed a total of 439 men who were seeking medical help because of ED at an academic outpatient clinic between January 2010 and June 2012.

114 (26 percent) of the men were under the age of 40. The younger patients tended to have a lower body mass index, more testosterone in their blood and a lower rate of concomitant medical conditions.

Smoking and illicit drug use was more common in young men and they were also more likely to experience premature ejaculation.

The rate of severe erectile dysfunction was higher among the younger patients compared to the older ones (48.8 percent versus 40 percent respectively).

Dr. Capogrosso said that the study showed the importance of thorough physical examinations among all men with erectile dysfunction, regardless of their age.

He added:

“These findings, taken together with those of other studies showing the importance of erectile dysfunction as a potential “sentinel marker” of major diseases, outline the importance of taking a comprehensive medical and sexual history and to perform a thorough physical examination in all men with erectile dysfunction, irrespective of their age.”

Irwin Goldstein, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, concluded:

“Erectile function, in general, is a marker for overall cardiovascular function – this is the first research showing evidence of severe erectile dysfunction in a population of men 40 years of age or younger. Clinically, when younger patients have presented with erectile dysfunction, we have in the past had a bias that their ED was primarily psychologic-based and vascular testing was not needed.

We now need to consider regularly assessing the integrity of arterial inflow in young patients – identifying arterial pathology in such patients may be very relevant to their overall long-term health.”

New research conducted at the Australian National University, published in PLOS Medicine, found that ED is associated with a higher risk of heart disease and early death in men both with and without a history of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Mayo clinic study finds younger men with erectile dysfunction at higher risk of heart disease

Written by Joseph Nordqvist