If you are under forty and suffering from erectile dysfunction, you need to make an appointment to see your GP. Now.
Erectile dysfunction describes both the partial or total inability to get and/or maintain an erection adequate for intercourse. 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. 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.
Men are notoriously bad at seeking help for medical problems anyway, but they are even more reluctant when the problem concerns their sexual performance. The situation isn’t helped by the fact that although ED is a medically recognised disability, in the UK, treatment is currently restricted to men who have certain specific illnesses that cause the problem, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, prostate problems, pelvic or spinal cord injuries and renal failure. Other conditions, such as heart disease and high blood pressure can cause ED, but these are so common that treatment is restricted for financial reasons.
Although, male sexual dysfunction can affect men of any age, it has always been thought to be far less common in men under forty. In the 1994 Massachusetts Male Aging Study, only 5% of men under forty suffered from ED compared to 50% of men aged 70-80, however analysis, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2013 suggests that the number of young men suffering from erectile dysfunction may be much higher than previously thought.
The study which was carried out by Paolo Capogrosso, MD, of the University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, in Milan, Italy, assessed 439 men who were seeking medical help because of ED at an academic outpatient clinic between January 2010 and June 2012. Their research found that 114 (26 percent) of the men were under the age of 40. The rate of severe erectile dysfunction was also higher among younger patients compared to the older ones (48.8 percent versus 40 percent respectively).
Younger patients tended to have a lower body mass index, more testosterone in their blood and a lower rate of concomitant medical conditions. They were also more likely to smoke and use drugs and they were also more likely to experience premature ejaculation.
In light of research conducted at the Australian National University, which 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, we need to get the message across to young men that ED is not something they should dismiss, or attempt to self medicate with internet bought Viagra (which is largely fake).
It is also equally important that doctors to take the issue seriously and thoroughly examine any young men who present with this problem.
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.”