Men’s lifestyle may cause them erectile dysfunction (ED) in the long run. Sedentary behavior, obesity, alcoholism, drug abuse, and chain-smoking are only some of the leading causes of ED.
Erectile Dysfunction: What is it?
The condition of erectile dysfunction (ED) is best defined as the inability to maintain an erection. The lack of firmness of one’s reproductive organs often leads to unsatisfying sex. This also includes erections that are quick to lose vigor. ED is considered the leading sexual dysfunction, with a total of 30 million American men diagnosed with the condition.
Although ED is commonly observed in older men, the statement that it is solely older men’s concern is false. Current research has proven that there is a rise in cases of young men (those in their 20s) developing ED.
Young Men with ED
Although it is a common conception that the condition of erectile dysfunction is exclusive to older men, it is a misconception that has long been debunked by research. Numerous studies dating as early as 2010 have stated that there is a strong positive trend regarding men under 40 reporting to have ED. As a more concrete example, a study published by Capogrosso (2013) has pointed out that out of the 439 interviewed male individuals that had ED, 26% or 114 of the total were under the age of 40. Of this number, about half had reported that they are experiencing “severe” cases.
What is the leading cause of this trend? Speculations of alcoholism, tobacco abuse, and drug usage are seen to be responsible for it. According to a doctor cited from the same study, lifestyle issues are what distinguishes these young men from the older age group of the same study. These issues such as chain-smoking and recreational drug use are already known to alter men’s erections. Meanwhile, separate studies also link excessive alcohol intake as a direct cause of ED. Men who consume more alcohol were less likely to have leaner body masses and normal testosterone levels.
What’s important to note is that this rapid rise in cases of ED in young men isn’t a phenomenon that just happened overnight. According to the study, evidence points out that ED has long been an issue for the younger demographic. This has long been a problem for the medical system because men getting diagnosis and treatment is an unlikely scenario. In most cases, men find it hard to acknowledge that they have the condition and thus refuse to seek treatment. Another factor that should be considered is that men seek healthcare more infrequently than people of the opposite sex. Men also lack a specialized form of reproductive health expertise (i.e. Gynecology for females).
The recent increase in cases of ED may be attributed to younger men having a better awareness of the condition. These young men are now being diagnosed accurately and are undergoing treatment, so most of the cases don’t go hidden. Since they are still young, they become well aware that the condition may be treated, so they’re trying to fix it at the earliest onset. Once these young men realize that the condition becomes more disruptive to their life as they age, they are more likely to seek healthcare.
Erectile dysfunction could be a way for the body to signal its overall health. Erectile dysfunction may be a manifestation of an underlying health problem, such as chronic heart disease, testosterone imbalance, hypertension, high cholesterol, or even diabetes. The capillaries (tiny blood vessels) that are found in the penis are significantly smaller than the blood vessels present in the other parts of the body, so changes in the blood flow of the penile region are sometimes precursors of more serious conditions like heart attacks and strokes. This becomes a concern for young men especially those still in their 20s because these conditions don’t usually arise from their demographic.
Causes of ED
More research is needed to conclude the specific cause of what’s triggering ED for the younger demographic. Men who have reported to have ED suggest no links that may have caused their condition. However, several studies are in the process of being verified. For example, some healthcare professionals suggest that the rise of internet porn in today’s age might be altering men’s psychology and how they approach sex. Excessive pornography exposure then affects their sex life by offering an unrealistic view of sexual intercourse. The following are other factors looked into:
- Performance Anxiety – This anxiety is defined as having negative feelings when it comes to sexual activities. People with performance anxiety often overthink their partner’s satisfaction to the point that they become self-conscious and burdened with pressure. This may further develop into ED.
- Lifestyle – As mentioned, changes in one’s lifestyle may also lead to ED. Obesity, alcoholism, chainsmoking, drug use, and abuse are only four of the proven causes of ED in men.
- Mental health concerns – psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia may cause ED. These psychological disorders hinder the person from having a fulfilling sex life. What makes it worse is that medicines used to treat these may also make the condition worse.
- Abnormalities of the male organ – Each body is created differently, and some men have penile conditions in which the foreskin becomes too tight. This is called phimosis. Another condition is when the man’s penis becomes unusually curved. This is called the Peyronie’s Disease and may make erection and penetration uncomfortable.
- Certain medications – As mentioned above, certain medical drugs, when consumed, may further ED. Some examples of these medications include antidepressants, antihypertensive drugs, and antihistamines.
- Low testosterone – Low testosterone levels lead to several sexual side effects. In the medical field, low testosterone level is defined as hypogonadism, which reflects itself with low sex drive and ED.
- Multiple sclerosis – Multiple sclerosis is a rare condition wherein the person’s immune system disrupts the function of the protective sheath surrounding other nerves. This neuromuscular disorder goes between the communication of the brain and the penis. Although ED is common in people with MS, having ED doesn’t automatically mean that you have MS. After all, it is a rare condition.
Treatment for ED
Although ED may affect males from any age group as discussed, it is important to note that the condition is treatable. The following are some treatment options for ED:
- Keep in mind personal health – As with any health condition, taking better care of one’s self is a huge step forward in combating any disease. Minute lifestyle changes such as exercising, not smoking, keeping sober, and dieting may lead to ED resolving on its own. Quitting the use of illegal drugs is also seen to possibly lead to regaining erectile function.
- Medication – Some medications are readily available to aid in the treatment of ED. Some of these medications include Sildenafil (Viagra), Tadalafil, Vardenafil, and Avanafil. These are all PDE5 inhibitors that aid in alleviating the effects of ED. Your healthcare provider may also look into the medication you are consuming to rule out what may be causing your ED. You may ask your healthcare provider for other alternatives.
- Counseling – Since ED may sometimes be caused by underlying mental health issues, psychotherapy and other psychological assistance are seen to be viable treatments for men experiencing ED.
- Herbal therapy – Moving away from traditional western medicine, some men have found herbal medicine and supplements to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of ED. These natural remedies like DHEA, a naturally occurring hormone in the body, as well as L-arginine, L-carnitine, and ginseng are proven to be helpful.
As always, once symptoms of ED persist, it is best to seek help from a medical professional. After careful diagnosis, they may offer viable treatments that are the best fit for you. These healthcare providers also rule out possible bigger health concerns that may be needed to be resolved first.