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Young Men and Erectile Dysfunction


Erectile dysfunction is usually thought of as a condition affecting older men. But in recent years, a growing number of men in their 30 and even 20s have reported problems with ED. By being aware of the things that contribute to ED, young men can reduce their chances of being affected.

Some people claim that the increase in erectile dysfunction among young men is caused by porn or masturbation, but scientific research has debunked this theory1. A 2015 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine concluded that “We found little evidence of the association between pornography use and male sexual health disturbances. Contrary to rising public concerns, pornography does not seem to be a significant risk factor for younger men’s desire, erectile, or orgasmic difficulties.”

Of course, if viewing porn becomes a compulsion, and interferes with your everyday life, it’s time to get help. But it is not the cause of the increase in erectile dysfunction.

So what is causing ED among young men?

Most men experience erectile problems occasionally. It can be caused by a lot of things.

  • Being stressed about work or school.
  • Not getting enough sleep, and being exhausted.
  • Relationship problems.
  • Having a bad cold, or the flu.
  • Drinking a little too much.

Whatever the cause, a man might not be able to get an erection, or might lose it quickly. It’s no big deal. Unless it happens again. Maybe even a third time.

And then it becomes a problem. Every time the man thinks about having sex, anxiety will creep in. Anxiety kills the mood. It generates adrenalin, which kills erections. And that’s when it becomes erectile dysfunction!

Physical causes

There may also be physical causes.

Young people today are not as healthy as previous generations. Sedentary lifestyles, poor eating habits, obesity, and stress all take a toll on their bodies. Men in their 20s are reporting medical complaints that were previously associated with middle age.

Many of these health problems – including cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and obesity – are directly related to erectile dysfunction.

Reducing the risk

To reduce their risk of ED, young men should adopt a healthy lifestyle – both physically and mentally – before they do irreversible damage to their bodies. That means:

  • Switching to a low-sodium, heart-healthy Mediterranean diet.
  • Getting plenty of aerobic exercise.
  • Establishing a regular sleep schedule, and sticking to it.
  • Finding ways to reduce stress, and to manage stress.
  • Not smoking or vaping.
  • Using alcohol only in moderation, or not at all.

The great thing about these steps is that they will not only reduce the chances of erectile dysfunction, but will also greatly improve overall health.

What to do if you are experiencing ED

If you find, despite your best efforts at a healthy lifestyle, that you’re having problems getting an erection, don’t panic!

Erectile dysfunction is the persistent inability to achieve and maintain an erection suitable for penetrative sex. Notice the word persistent? In other words, if it only happens occasionally, it’s not ED. If you have consistent problems over a month or more, it’s time to talk to a doctor.

Many men are embarrassed about taking with a doctor about ED. To be frank, this is dumb. ED is a medical issue, and doctors deal with hundreds or thousands of cases. Yet studies show that about 1/3 of men don’t get help for ED because they are too embarrassed2.

There are three good reasons to talk to your doctor:

  1. Your doctor can check for and (hopefully) rule out anything serious like diabetes or heart disease.
  2. Your doctor can determine the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment.
  3. Your doctor can prescribe PDE5 inhibitors like sildenafil (Viagra) or tadalafil (Cialis), which will allow you to have erections while working on underlying health issues.

If the doctor can’t find a physical problem, the problem may be psychological. If that’s the case, you may need some help and advice from a sex coach, counselor, or therapist3.

If you are in a relationship, you should also talk to your partner about your condition, and what you are doing to address it. Studies show that men and their partners suffer serious psychological impacts from erectile dysfunction, including feelings of inadequacy, rejection, stress, anxiety and depression4. It’s important to recognize that ED affects both of you, and work together to resolve it.

Erectile dysfunction can damage or even destroy relationships, but the biggest impact is not the lack of sex – it’s the breakdown of communication and trust.


Erectile dysfunction is very common as men age, but it is not inevitable. By making good choices, your men can reduce their chances of erectile dysfunction, and lead a healthier life.


  1. Does Porn Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
  2. Study of Willingness to Seek Help for Erectile Dysfunction
  3. Counseling for Erectile Dysfunction
  4. Research on the Impact of Erectile Dysfunction

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