Is it normal to have erectile dysfunction in your 20s?

ED is quite frequent in younger males.Picture:Pexels/ cottonbro studio

ED is quite frequent in younger males.Picture:Pexels/ cottonbro studio

Published Aug 17, 2023


The South African Urological Association defines erectile dysfunction (impotence) as the inability to achieve and maintain an erection that is strong enough for intercourse. Nerves release substances that boost blood flow to the penis during sexual stimulation.

The corpus cavernosum, two erection chambers in the penis composed of spongy muscular tissue, receives blood flow. The chambers of the corpus cavernosum are solid.

The spongy tissues loosen up and trap blood during an erection. An erection results from the penis being stiff due to the blood pressure in the chambers.

A second set of nerve signals that reach the penis during an orgasm cause the penis' muscular tissues to contract, releasing blood back into the circulatory system and causing the erection to disappear.

The penis is soft and limp when you are not sexually aroused. According to the Urology Care Foundation, men may see that their penis changes in size in response to heat, cold, or stress. This is natural and represents the balance of blood entering and exiting the penis.

The National Institutes of Health forecast that there will be 322 million men globally who have ED by 2025, an increase of over 170 million men from the estimated 152 million men who had the condition in 1995. Africa, Asia, and South America were the regions with the biggest anticipated growth.

A number of studies done in the last ten years have discovered a substantial rise in the proportion of males under the age of 40 reporting ED, a condition formerly thought only to affect older men.

For instance, according to ResearchGate, 114 (26%) of the 439 men in an Italian study that was published in 2013 who experienced erectile dysfunction were under the age of 40.

According to the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF), a 15-item questionnaire that evaluates erection frequency and quality, nearly half of those young men had ‘’severe’’ ED.

It's not always a reason for alarm to experience occasional erection problems. However, if erectile dysfunction persists, it may stress you out, undermine your confidence, and complicate your relationships.

Symptoms of erectile dysfunction may include chronic problems achieving and maintaining an erection as well as decreased sexual desire.

Problems obtaining or maintaining an erection can also be a risk factor for heart disease and a symptom of an underlying medical illness that needs to be treated.

An erection that is strong enough for sex is difficult to achieve or maintain with ED. Your health care physician or a urologist can assist if it develops into a frequent and bothersome issue.

ED may be a serious indicator that a man's vascular system is becoming obstructed, which is a sign of cardiovascular disease.

According to several studies, men who experience erectile dysfunction are far more likely to suffer a heart attack, a stroke, or circulation issues in their legs. Low self-esteem, despair, and distress for the guy and his spouse are further effects of ED.

It is annoying not to be able to have an erection when you need one, regardless of your age. But if you're in your 20s or 30s and discover that you can't develop or keep an erection, you might worry if what's happening inside of you is normal.

According to the Mayo Clinic, erectile dysfunction (ED) in younger men is significantly more common than previously believed. In fact, according to some estimates, up to 30% of men under the age of 40 struggle with erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction in younger men, however, may be a symptom of a more serious medical illness if you were previously healthy.

There are various possibilities, but no one theory has been proven to be the reason why more young men are experiencing ED. There are several things that might be happening in that age bracket.

The development of efficient treatments for the ailment may be one reason for the rise in ED among younger men. After all, Pfizer only introduced Viagra in 1998. Due to increased awareness of ED, young men are now able to seek help from their healthcare providers rather than suffering in silence as they might have in the past.

Aside from awareness, there are various possible psychological and physical reasons for ED:

Psychological factors that lead to ED in young males

Some psychologists believe that the popularity of internet porn may be depressing young men's sexual behaviour and psychological attitude to sex.

A review of studies conducted in 2019 concluded that there was insufficient data to support such a claim. Self-esteem difficulties, performance anxiety, general anxiety, or depression are some more probable psychological factors that do have scientific support.

Younger males with ED may have physical causes

There are several medical explanations of erectile dysfunction in younger men if you're convinced that your mental health isn't the root of it. Drug addiction, alcoholism, and obesity may all contribute.

Additionally, some drugs, especially anti-depressants, might cause ED as a side effect. ED can also be brought on by certain medical diseases in addition to these lifestyle variables.

According to a study by the Urology Care Foundation, ED may be a precursor to more serious health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, low testosterone, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high blood sugar.

Because the blood veins in the penis are smaller than those in other body parts, ED symptoms can occasionally manifest before more severe issues, such a heart attack or stroke.

Therefore, it could be concerning when an otherwise healthy man in his 20s has ED. This is why if you're a young man with erectile dysfunction, it's critical to speak with a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

Oral drugs, sex therapy, penile injections, vacuum devices or penis pumps, intraurethral pharmaceuticals, or surgery (penile implant) are just a few of the many ways that ED can be treated, according to the Urology Care Foundation.

Every type has advantages and disadvantages. With the help of your doctor, decide on the best course of action for you. Finding the underlying reason is the first step in treating ED. The right course of treatment can then start.

A man can regain normal sexual function through a variety of non-surgical and surgical procedures.

The Mayo Clinic advises leading a balanced lifestyle and managing any underlying medical disorders as the best ways to prevent erectile dysfunction.

For instance, consult your doctor regularly for check-ups and medical screenings; manage diabetes, heart disease, or other chronic health concerns; quit smoking; limit or avoid alcohol use; abstain from using illegal drugs; engage in regular exercise; take steps to manage stress.

As an alternative, you can obtain support for issues with anxiety, depression, or other mental health.

It is important to treat ED if it is hurting a man's relationships or overall health. The goal of treatment is to improve erectile function, circulatory health, and a man's quality of life.

Even if you feel embarrassed, discuss your concerns with your doctor if you have erectile dysfunction.

Sometimes reversing erectile dysfunction only requires treating an underlying problem. In some situations, it could be necessary to use drugs or other direct treatments.