ERECTIONS ∙ 2 minutes read

Erectile dysfunction by age: is it just a number?

By Duncan Fisher

In 2013, a big Swedish study showed that erectile dysfunction increases with age. According to the study, the risk factors for ED increase with age as well. These include medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, the use of medications, the use of alcohol and tobacco, and even living alone.

But ED does not increase so strictly through people’s lives. Another study in 2019 analysed the risk of developing ED at different ages, and found that when gauging the likelihood of getting ED, age alone isn’t enough to go on. In fact, it is the lifestyle options throughout a man’s life that can be a more significant factor than just someone’s age. We’ve taken a look at what these lifestyle factors might be.

Possible risk factors in your 20s - 30s

In your 20s and 30s, you’re in an age group known to be suffering a lot of anxiety and early-career stress. It’s also a time notorious for partying and drug misuse (and drug abuse can cause ED). People in this age group also smoke more than the rest of the population - another potential cause of ED. And there’s also a rising culture of excessive pornography use among young people. This, experts say, is very likely to cause problems in young men’s intimate lives.

Possible risk factors in your 30s - 40s

In your 30s and 40s, you may experience more intense career and family stress. Your risk of developing physiological issues, like cardiovascular disease, also increases. It is also around this time, sometimes earlier, that the consequences of heavy alcohol consumption can start to manifest themselves. Amongst these are peripheral neuropathy (reduced nerve function, which can cause ED) and obesity, which is associated with both reduced testosterone and cardiovascular disease - both bad news for erectile function.

Possible risk factors in your 40s - 50+

Cardiovascular disease, a major cause of ED, is most common after 50, so the preceding years are crucial for taking control of all your cardiovascular risk factors: smoking, diabetes, obesity, inactivity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. There is also the matter of ‘andropause’ the lesser-known male correspondent of the female menopause: testosterone is known to decline very gradually with age, which may result in a higher likelihood of ED.

The bottom line

To keep yourself in fighting trim, and maintain healthy erectile function no matter what stage of life you are in, you can help by doing things such as exercising regularly, going easy on the drinking, and cutting out cigarettes. You can also keep an eye on what you eat – thinking particularly about your cardiovascular health above all.  

And if you do come across any problems with your erections anytime in your life, it’s really easy nowadays to find simple solutions to keep your sex life active while you figure out the underlying causes.

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