Erectile dysfunction becomes more common with age, but it can affect young males. Treatments can be effective for people of all ages.
Erectile dysfunction (ED), once called impotence, occurs when the penis does not receive enough blood to produce an erection for satisfactory intercourse.
ED is very common — most males experience difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection at some point. According to some estimates, ED affects 30 million males in the United States alone.
This article looks at how aging affects ED. We also explore the risk factors, causes, and treatments.
Can young people have ED?
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Many people think of erectile problems as an older adult’s issue, but they can affect younger males, as well.
According to some estimates, ED affects 8% of males aged 20–29 years and 11% of those aged 30–39 years.
The data also suggest that the number of people under 40 seeking medical attention for ED is increasing.
Many factors that contribute to ED can occur at any age. These include physical and emotional factors — both of which are important for sexual activity.
Some contributing factors include:
having anxiety, depression, or feelings of shame or guilt about sexual activity
experiencing significant stress, about sex or something else
drinking alcohol in excess
using recreational drugs
having overweight or obesity
having a lack of physical activity
using workout supplements, testosterone boosters, or over-the-counter erectile aids
At any age, making adjustments such as lowering levels of stress and exercising more frequently can help improve erectile problems and boost overall health.
How does age affect ED?
Age is a main risk factor for ED. According to some estimates, males have a 40% chance of having some form of ED by their 40s. The risk then increases about 10% per decade.
While people are more likely to develop ED as they get older, aging does not directly cause it. ED is not a normal part of aging — some males are sexually active into their 80s.
However, as people get older, they are more likely to develop medical conditions that increase the risk of ED. These include: