Health warning for younger men with erectile dysfunction

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Worrisome finding shows more younger men with erectile dysfunction.
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It might seem that problems getting an erection occur mostly with age. But a new study found one out of 4 younger men had erectile dysfunctions (ED) that are under age 40 that could mean hidden health problems.

The finding comes from an analysis of clinic visits from men seeking help for ED. Half of the young men asking for treatment had severe forms of erectile dysfunction.

Researchers for the study say ED is more common after age 40 and not enough studies have been done targeting the problem in young men.

Paolo Capogrosso, MD, of the University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, in Milan, Italy and colleagues analyzed the 439 men seeking medical help for new onset of erectile dysfunction between January 2010 and June 2011, looking at socioeconomic characteristics and clinical presentation of the men.

Among 439 patients seeking help for erectile dysfunction at the single clinic, 26 percent, or 114 of the men, were younger than age 40.

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Younger men were thinner, high higher testosterone levels, but were more likely to smoke cigarettes and use illicit drugs, the researchers found.

They were also less likely to have other medical conditions, compared to older men, but more likely to experience premature ejaculation.

What the study means

Younger men generally have ED from psychological versus physical problems. But the new study showing 1 in 4 men visiting the clinic studied had new onset of ED could mean all men, regardless of age, should receive a comprehensive physical exam for underlying health issues.

Irwin Goldstein, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine. "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."

The finding highlights erectile dysfunction in younger men that could signal long-term issues. ED in young men might be more than just psychological dysfunction.

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