Erectile dysfunction (ED) is making headlines after US scientists found that those who suffer from the condition are 70 per cent more likely to die early.

Generally considered a condition only affecting older men, ED has been found to be more prevalent among men under 40 than previously thought.

A study published in the ‘Journal of Sexual Medicine’ in 2013 found that one in four men who sought help for ED at an outpatients clinic in Milan were under the age of 40.

The study was based on data collected from 439 men, 26 per cent of whom were under 40, who attended an outpatient clinic between 2010 and 2012 for newly developed ED. Surprisingly, nearly half of those men under 40 years were severely affected by ED when compared to 40 per cent of men aged over 40 years.

Premature ejaculation was also more likely to be experienced by men under, 40 whereas men over 40 were more likely to suffer from Peyronie’s disease, a condition where the erect penis is bent due to scar tissue.

In light of these findings, here is everything you need to know about the condition in men under 40.

What causes ED?

There are many reasons why men experience ED, including lifestyle choices such as smoking and taking drugs. Frequent use of drugs and cigarettes was found to be more prevalent in the younger group which, may have contributed to their erectile problems as toxic effects on the cardiovascular system can impact upon the blood supply to the penis.

Stress caused by work demands or being unemployed, relationship conflicts, family life, money worries and medical conditions such as depression, diabetes and heart disease can also cause symptoms of ED, the side effects from some medications.

How can I know if I have severe ED?

Perception of what is ED differ in different age groups of men. Younger men may have higher sexual performance demands than older men and missing a single erection could be perceived as severe ED for younger men, whereas older men missing several erections might consider that to be severe.

Also, older men consider that ED is a symptom of the aging process and may not seek medical advice as quick as a younger man.

When should I visit a doctor?

Every man experiences erectile problems during their life which can often be related to situational ED caused by stress and fatigue.

If you are unable to get a normal sustained erection, either with a partner, by yourself or using the usual visual imagery on a regular basis, then you should seek medical help.

ED could be a sign of a more serious physical condition that requires medical treatment, such as heart disease or diabetes. You may be taking medication which could be affecting your erectile function and switching to an alternative drug may lessen sexual side effects.

How can it be treated?

Despite the high prevalence of cases many men suffer in silence as they are too embarrassed to seek medical advice. They often don’t talk about their problem with friends and family for fear of being teased or considered less masculine.

Under-treatment of ED continues to be common, even though the range of treatments currently available are effective and can greatly improve your relationship and sexual satisfaction.

There are many treatments for ED, medication being the most common, but one size doesn’t fit all and what works for one man may not have be effective for someone else.

Popping a pill is not always the answer and some men don’t want to take drugs. Alternatively, changing your lifestyle can help symptoms of ED.

Ways to treat ED without using drugs

Exercise
Improving diet

Maintaining a healthy weight

Eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, taking regular exercise and looking after your sexual health can all help.

Studies have found that ED is relatively uncommon in men who eat a traditional Mediterranean diet, which includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, olives, wine, and red meat.

Many urologists motivate their patients to lose weight by telling them that they will gain at least an inch in size by simply losing weight, in addition to reducing their risk of heart disease and diabetes. Often the penis becomes embedded in lower abdominal fat as men gain weight, making it appear shorter.

So, don’t suffer in silence – if you have a problem seek professional medical advice. A simple chat with your doctor could improve your sex life.

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