Young Man with erectile dysfunctionErectile dysfunction was once a taboo topic. Men and women impacted by the condition suffered silently for countless years until as recently as 30-35 years ago. Until then, it wasn’t acceptable in society to speak of sexual dysfunction or sexual health. So, it wasn’t discussed.


For more information, check out our “Guide to Erectile Dysfunction“.


At first, those who attempted to discuss or diagnose the condition didn’t know much about it because of the lack of medical information. Most believed impotence to be a mental or psychological condition. With all the “education” around the condition, this has changed, or has it?


We have since learned most ED is usually a side effect of a primary medical condition. Elderly men have historically been considered as those who suffer from erectile dysfunction due to medical risk factors from health conditions that cause ED such as:



According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, one patient out of four with newly diagnosed erectile dysfunction is a young man. This study concluded that new onset of ED as the primary disorder was found in 26% of 439 patients analyzed.  This represents a lot of younger men who are developing ED.


Furthermore, younger ED patients showed habits of cigarette smoking and or use of illicit drugs, as compared to older men. Is this a new development in societal habits?  Smoking is not as widely accepted as it once was.  Recreational drugs were used by the ancient Egyptians. So, what is new?


Premature Ejaculation has been discussed as a form of erectile dysfunction. Is Premature ejaculation now considered a form of erectile dysfunction? In the search for a clear definition of what is ED, it might be said there is as much misinformation now as ever.


What is erectile dysfunction?


Why are younger men being diagnosed with Erectile Dysfunction?  Has the definition of the condition been expanded by those who diagnose and provide treatments for the condition?  Are men developing chronic health conditions associated with erectile dysfunction at a younger age?


A straightforward definition of erectile dysfunction is provided by the Mayo Clinic. Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sex. With all that we have learned about the condition through the years, the definition of erectile dysfunction has expanded


Premature ejaculation, a condition typically experienced by younger men, is frequently treated off-label by physicians who prescribe Viagra for the condition. This potential definition of erectile dysfunction certainly contributes to selling more Viagra.


Erectile Dysfunction Meaning



This couple seems young to have erectile dysfunction
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In the pursuit of new patients and profits pharmaceutical companies are endlessly expanding the meaning of erectile dysfunction.  Pfizer found that Viagra was effective, the only problem based on a systematic review of the evidence discovered that it resulted in successful intercourse 50-60% of the time according to a 1998 assessment.


For Pfizer to grow the market for Viagra, it had to be the treatment of choice for a much larger population.  Younger men with disposable income became the target.  All that was necessary was to re-define erectile dysfunction. How to do this?


Expand the definition of the ability to achieve and maintain an erection to include rare incidents and short durations instead of a permanent condition.  Secondly, create demand for a category of “lifestyledrugs.  The couples on their website, magazine ads, and direct to consumer advertisement appear to be in their 30’s.  The message is that everyone, whatever their age, at one point or another can use a little enhancement.


In 30 years we’ve gone from too little information on erectile dysfunction to information overload.  Why are so many young men being diagnosed with erectile dysfunction?


Obesity rates in America


Obesity leads to many complications associated with ED such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis (deposits of plaques on the inner walls of blood vessels).  It was proven recently that obesity leads to erectile dysfunction in a considerably greater extent than aging.


According to an article in the New York Times, “American Adults Just Keep Getting Fatter.” Fast food sales in the United States rose 22.7% from 2012 to 2017, according to Euromonitor, while packaged food sales rose 8.8%.  According to NBC news article, 70.7 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese.


Obesity and Diabetes


The relationship between obesity and diabetes is of such interdependence that the term “dibesity” has been coined. The passage from obesity to diabetes is made by a progressive defect in insulin secretion coupled with a progressive rise in insulin resistance.


Both insulin resistance and defective insulin secretion appear very prematurely in obese patients, and both worsen similarly towards diabetes. More than half of men with diabetes have erectile dysfunction.


Obesity and high blood pressure


The researchers from Monash, Warwick, Cambridge and several American universities have discovered that the hormone leptin – which regulates the amount of fat stored in the body – also drives the increase in blood pressure that occurs with weight gain. 


A study published in the Ochsner Journal concludes:  Obesity predisposes to hypertension and alters the course of hypertensive cardiovascular disease in ways that are only now coming to be appreciated. According to WebMD a study in the American Geriatrics Society found that 49% of men ages 40 to 79 with high blood pressure had erectile dysfunction.


Erectile Dysfunction in Young Men


The age of Viagra as a lifestyle drug and performance enhancement instrument has expanded the definition of erectile dysfunction.  Young men who would not meet the most conservative medical definition associated with the absence of nocturnal erections are now large consumers of oral ED medications. 


This is important for drug manufacturers who find men with diabetes, hypertension, and prostate cancer are not achieving and keeping an erection as often as healthy men seeking performance enhancement using their drugs.  However, this is not the whole story.


Obesity is becoming an epidemic in the United States of America.  Risk factors associated with obesity include diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.  These risk factors have erectile dysfunction as a side effect.  Lifestyle and dietary choices are impacting younger men more than ever before. 


Is it possible that there is more than one answer to why younger men have erectile dysfunction?