Mental health linked to erectile dysfunction in younger men

Mental health linked to erectile dysfunction in younger men

Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence or ED is a condition that causes the inability to get and/or maintain an erection.

Once considered a problem for the middle aged, erectile dysfunction is now a condition that increasingly affects younger men. A recent study found that a quarter of newly diagnosed cases were in men between the ages of 25-35. This has led to a notable departure from the traditional view that ED is a condition reserved primarily for older men. 

Causes of ED vary but when symptoms present in older men they are usually more physical for example high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, hormonal imbalances and the use of some medications. Physical causes can often make it easier and straight forward to diagnose and treat this condition.

 However the causes, as far as younger and otherwise healthy men, have been mostly attributed to psychological factors like stress, depression and anxiety as well as peer pressure and relationship problems. This is the case in instances where men might be able to get and maintain an erection in those situations where they are not with a sexual partner (i.e. masturbation) but not when having sex with a partner.

When a man experiences anxiety before and/or during intimacy, sex stops becoming a natural act and starts becoming more about a perceived lack of performance.

Another reason can be a lack of confidence, which leads to anxiety in other aspects of the man’s personal life. This then becomes a self-perpetuating condition, leading to the man being unable to engage in a healthy sexual relationship.

Online healthcare provider 121doc confirmed that anxiety and stress was a leading cause of young men seeking treatment for impotence. Furthermore, Jerome Hoeksema MD stated, “When a younger man experiences ED, it is often associated with performance anxiety, which in turn increases the problem. The more they worry about it, the worse it gets. Young men need to recognise this cycle and try to reduce the stress surrounding sex”.

So is this easier said than done? Due to the “embarrassing” nature of the subject, sometimes men tend not to fully discuss these problems with their GP or even try to avoid discussing it with their partner. Leaving a medical condition untreated, not only could be dangerous to your health, but avoidance could also add pressure, stress and anxiety which could exacerbate the problem.

It is really important to address the contributing factors in everyday life.

Different methods and treatments are available and can be employed to help improve your general mental well-being and tackle psychological and emotional related ED.

  • Try to not focus too hard on the act of achieving an erection.
  • Regular exercise and relaxation periods can help lower stress levels.
  • Talking therapy, sex therapy, couples or individual counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy and medication all have proven records in tackling ED.

The key is to break the cycle of anxiety and stress and enjoy sex in an open and fulfilling way.

This can be easier for men in long-term and healthy relationships as communication between partners can be the key to overcome this hurdle.

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