Easy Solution for Erectile Dysfunction Among Younger Men

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Updated: August 24, 2013

Although the risk of erectile dysfunction becomes more common as a man ages, a new study finds that younger men are increasingly more likely to visit their doctors with sexual issues. There are many factors involved, however, if the reason is related to weight – there may be an easy solution.

New research from the University Vita-Salute San Raffaele in Italy finds that roughly one in four new patients reporting problems with erection are men under the age of 40. To find out why, the men were assessed for dozens of lifestyle and health factors that are typically involved in erectile dysfunction, including testosterone levels, smoking history, body mass index, smoking and drug use. Younger men often had less trouble with health conditions related to ED – it seemed to be primarily poor lifestyle choices.

For example, younger ED patients were more likely to be addicted to cigarettes and illicit drugs such as cocaine and marijuana. They researchers also found that men who regularly watched porn are significantly more likely to experience low libido or weak erection.

Unfortunately, although there are options for men with ED, previous research finds that many patients receive no treatment.

Men should visit their healthcare providers if they are experiencing symptoms of erectile dysfunction because it can be a sign of another health problem. For example, research from the Australian National University finds that Ed is associated with a higher risk of heart disease and early death in men both with and without a history of cardiovascular disease. It can also be a sign of a blocked blood vessel or nerve damage from diabetes.

One major reason for an increased rate of men suffering from ED could be the rising level of obesity in developed nations. Excess weight, especially in the abdomen, can interfere with the body’s ability to supply blood to the penis and it can cause testosterone production to plummet. A weight loss of just 5 to 10% can actually improve erectile function and boost sex drive.

The “Western Diet” that includes high levels of saturated fat and added sugar could contribute to both weight gain and cardiovascular disease. Changing the diet is hard, but one answer to tackling the problem could be as simple as forcing yourself off the couch.

Researchers at East Carolina University found that exercise improves both erectile dysfunction and the function of the vessels that supply blood to the heart, even when no dietary changes are made. One caveat – the exercise must be intense and must be consistent.

“The finding that exercise prevents Western diet-associated erectile dysfunction and coronary artery disease progression translates to an intensively active lifestyle throughout the duration of the ‘junk food’ diet,” the authors say. “It remains to be seen if a moderately active lifestyle, or an active lifestyle initiated after a prolonged duration of a sedentary lifestyle combined with a ‘junk food’ diet is effective at reversing functional impairment.”

Journal References:
Paolo Capogrosso, et al. “One Patient Out of Four with Newly Diagnosed Erectile Dysfunction Is a Young Man – Worrisome Picture from the Everyday Clinical Practice” The Journal of Sexual Medicine. Volume 10, Issue 7, pages 1833–1841, July 2013.

Emily Banks, Grace Joshy, Walter P. Abhayaratna, Leonard Kritharides, Peter S. Macdonald, Rosemary J. Korda, John P. Chalmers. Erectile Dysfunction Severity as a Risk Marker for Cardiovascular Disease Hospitalisation and All-Cause Mortality: A Prospective Cohort Study. PLOS Medicine Jan 22, 2013

Christopher J Wingard et al. “Exercise Prevents Western-Diet Associated Erectile Dysfunction and Coronary Artery Endothelial Dysfunction: Response to Acute Apocynin and Sepiapterin Treatment.” American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology, Published 12 June 2013

Additional Resource:
National Library of Medicine (National Institutes of Health)

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