Erectile Dysfunction or ED is something that isn’t really talked about at all, however it does affect a lot of men at some point in their lifetime. In case you’re unsure of what it is, it is when a man struggles to get hard.
Erectile dysfunction can be an embarrassing topic, particularly for young men, but it is important to bear in mind that the problem affects millions of other men, and that there are many treatment options available. It may not be something you feel comfortable discussing with your friends, but make sure you seek medical advice if you are worried.
In young men, ED is likely to be related to stress, or lifestyle choices, such as drinking and smoking too much, but occasionally it can be an early indicator that something a little more serious may be happening, so it’s important to investigate the problem.
When an older man experiences erectile dysfunction, there’s often a physical problem to blame. However, for guys in their 20’s and 30’s, it may be more of a psychological issue.
ED can also be stressful when considering your partners feelings, but erections do not equal desire. Equating erections with desire can create shame, pressure, and misunderstanding. So if you think you struggle with ED, speaking about it with your partner may be a step in the right direction.
The Stats/ About ED
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition that occurs when the penis does not receive enough blood to produce an erection that is capable of having sexual intercourse. For men with ED, this happens repeatedly and affects a man’s ability to sustain an active sex life.
Although ED is not as common in young men, it can affect about 25 percent of men under the age of 40. ED is more prevalent among older men, but it also affects younger men in large numbers.
About 75% of diagnosed cases of ED go untreated, due to men feeling a sense of embarrassment.
According to Heathline.com, ED has several potential physical and psychological causes. “In some cases, ED can be an early sign of a serious health condition. Heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, hormonal disorders, additionally, an abnormally high or low thyroid hormone level can result in ED.” Young men who use steroids to help build muscle mass are also at a higher risk for ED.
The NHS Website states that “Most men occasionally fail to get or keep an erection. It is usually caused by stress, tiredness, anxiety or drinking too much alcohol, and it’s nothing to worry about. If it happens more often, it may be caused by physical or emotional problems.”
Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
It used to be thought that ED was caused by psychological issues, or was simply a part of the ageing process, but today medical thinking has broadened its horizons and moved away from these ideas, realising that the condition has a range of causes.
Some common causes for ED are: chronic diseases, such as heart disease, and diabetes. (Men with diabetes are two to three times more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction.) Lifestyle choices: Smoking, drinking, and drug use can damage blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the penis. Medication: some over-the-counter, as well as prescription drugs, can have unexpected side effects, or clash with other medications.
However, the psychological side of ED is still very real. Causes can develop from: depression, stress, low self-esteem, and performance anxiety – which can all get in the way of achieving an erection.
According to Medzino, “Erectile dysfunction in your 20’s is likely caused by a psychological rather than a physical problem. You may simply be suffering from performance anxiety, and the tension you’re carrying because of this is affecting your ability to get or keep an erection.“
Anxiety is the most common cause of erectile dysfunction in young men. This can include nervousness about getting your partner pregnant, losing your erection while putting a condom on, or your sexual performance. This often creates a negative spiral, because failure to achieve an erection causes yet more anxiety and stress. Depression, anxiety and stress can also cause ED by reducing libido.
High blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking and diabetes can all lead to the narrowing of your blood vessels. This restricts blood flow to the penis and reduces the chance of getting a firm erection. Some common drugs can cause erectile dysfunction, such as those prescribed for depression, heart conditions and blood pressure. However, you should talk to your doctor before you stop taking them, or change them. Drinking heavily and using illegal drugs can also contribute towards erectile dysfunction in young men.
Stress related to jobs, money, and other life events can contribute to ED too. Relationship problems and poor communication with a partner can also cause sexual dysfunction in both men and women.
Treatment and Remedies
One of the first steps of treatment is to distinguish between physiological and psychological ED. The causes of ED widely vary and can be caused by psychological, neurological, or lifestyle issues. Additional lifestyle complications that some men might experience include: stress or anxiety around sexual performance, embarrassment or low self-esteem due to inability to perform.
Treatment for ED varies from person to person. Some men may find that improving their overall health may be enough to help the ED. Other people may require more treatment, such as relationship counselling, before they see any improvements. If lifestyle and relationship improvements are not sufficient to improve ED, doctors may recommend medications.
The NHS website states, “Medicine such as sildenafil (sold as Viagra) is also often used by doctors to treat erectile dysfunction. It’s also available from chemists. Because of changes in regulations, you no longer need a prescription to get sildenafil. But you’ll have to have a consultation with the pharmacist to make sure it’s safe for you to take it.”
Lloyd’s Pharmacy Online Doctor, Dr Gigi Taguri says, “There are four main prescription-only medicines which are used to treat erectile dysfunction in young men: Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis, Levitra and Spedra. You can purchase all of these erectile dysfunction medicines through our discreet online service. They all work in roughly the same way, by opening up the arteries which supply blood to the penis. This allows blood to fill the erectile tissue in the penis, and for an erection to be achieved and maintained.”
The Dangers of Viagra
What young men should not do is take an ED drug like Viagra without a prescription, or mix them with other drugs. Just like any drug, Viagra does have its dangers.“This is a huge problem and not a safe practice,” says Penny Kaye Jensen, PhD, president of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners in an article for Everyday Health about young men that struggle with ED, she continues,
“Some young men are mixing ED drugs with mind-altering drugs, such as ecstasy or crystal methamphetamine. This is on the rise and is a potentially deadly combination.”
“There’s a reason the ED drugs are intended only for men who clearly need them,” Jensen concludes. “While considered safe, taking these medications in higher than prescribed doses can lead to serious complications.” Easy Health Options writes a great article explaining the dangers of taking Viagra when you don’t need it also.
If you have any causes for concern, contact your GP to talk about your issues and figure out what it is that may be preventing you from being able to maintain an erection. I hope this article has helped to give a bit of reassurance and an insight into erectile dysfunction and how to go about it. Click on the link to read my previous article on Sex and… Periods!