Erectile dysfunction is a condition that seems to be affecting an increasing number of men in their 20s and 30s are experiencing. But is there more to the statistics than meets the eye?
Erectile dysfunction has been officially recognised as a male health issue since the 1990s. Since then, reports and diagnoses of the issue have continued to grow. The condition refers to the inability to develop or maintain an erection for satisfactory sexual intercourse and activity. It can the result of an underlying health condition, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, prostate cancer or even depression.
For most people, ED is thought to be an affliction which primarily affects older men. Figures show that around 50% of men over 40 experience ED, while around 70% of men over 70 experience the condition. What’s more, men between the ages of 50 and 59 are three times as likely to experience ED compared to men aged between 18 and 29.
But it seems that more and more men from younger age groups are concerned about ED, with performance anxiety becoming an increasing issue.
All in the mind?
A recent study of 2,000 UK men found that 50% of those in their 30s reported difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection. However, neuroscientist in sexual behaviour Nicole Prause says there is little scientific or statistical evidence to suggest that ED numbers are on the rise. Prause comments:
“When you look representatively, there has not been an increase in erectile dysfunction. I see stats all the time reading: ‘It’s increased 1000% in young men’. But there’s no paper that says that.”
Dr Douglas Savage of the Centre for Men’s Health comments, “I have been treating patients for 30 years, and there’s no doubt that we’re seeing more young men today than we used to. Often, these are men who appear to be super-healthy: they’re slim, they exercise, they’re young, and you think: ‘Why on earth have these people got sexual difficulties.’”
If the problem isn’t physical, recent reports do suggest that the psychological factors behind performance failure are on the rise, leading to more young men experiencing performance anxiety.
Psychotherapist at the Apex Complex, Raymond Francis, believes today’s easily-accessible internet culture may be partly to blame: “If you look at the rise of easily accessible pornography, people have an expectation that men are going to be great performers.”
Francis continues: “I see an increasing number of men under the age of 35 developing performance anxiety. Shortly before the man finds himself in bed with his partner, the anxiety builds. The more he imposes a demand on himself, and the more that demand is not met, the more disturbed he becomes. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Dated perceptions of masculinity within the male population may also be at fault, suggests Paul Nelson, who founded an online support group for ED sufferers called Frank Talk: “We are raised in a culture where men do not talk authentically about sex.”
Nelson says that for men, ED can feel like a “total humiliation. There’s a profound feeling of being less than anyone else.
“Men are supposed to always want sex and be ready to go. When you don’t live up to that code, you’re excluded from the men’s club.”
Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for ED sufferers?
When ED occurs as the result of emotional pressure and anxiety, open communication is key to overcoming the condition. Whether it’s with a partner, a friend, online communities or through seeking out psychotherapy, acknowledging issues and seeking support is a key step to a full recovery. Seeking treatment for underlying mental health concerns like anxiety and depression can also lead to an improved performance.
Of course, effective erectile dysfunction medication can also provide the assurance needed to enjoy sexual intercourse again. Leading treatments such as Viagra, Spedra and generic sildenafil are all proven to significantly reduce symptoms of ED. These treatments and more are available from Express Pharmacy.