Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition that makes it difficult to get and maintain an erection that is firm enough for sex. Although it is more common in older men, it also affects a significant percentage of younger men.
Erectile dysfunction in younger men can be caused by or related to an underlying physical or psychological condition. Being proactive in getting a diagnosis and starting treatment, if necessary, is a wise decision at any age.
In this article, we’ll explore why erectile dysfunction can occur in your 30s and what you can do about it.
It is possible to experience mild, occasional, or complete erectile dysfunction at any age. Although a lot of research has been done on the subject, estimates of the number of men suffering from erectile dysfunction vary.
Although dated, the
The variation between studies may be due to a number of factors, such as differences between screening tools and questionnaires used by researchers. What the research agrees on, however, is that the risk of ED tends to increase with age.
One of the main reasons that the risk of erectile dysfunction increases with age is that erectile function depends on bodily systems that tend to change with age.
For example, an enlarged prostate is common in older men and sometimes contributes to problems with erectile dysfunction and ejaculation. As the prostate gets bigger, it can compress the urethra, the tube that carries urine and semen.
Advancing age is also associated with lower levels of testosterone, a hormone important in male sexual function, and poor blood circulation, which can affect sexual function and most aspects of physical health.
In younger men, the causes of erectile dysfunction are often related to lifestyle and general health. Some of these factors include:
Other physical causes can include high blood pressure and hormonal disorders such as low testosterone.
Erectile dysfunction can also be caused by psychological or emotional issues, such as:
These problems can affect your hormones and your nervous system, which play a very important role in getting and maintaining an erection.
Performance anxiety can also contribute to erectile dysfunction, especially if you have had erectile dysfunction in the past and are worried about it happening again.
Whatever the cause, erectile dysfunction is often treatable with a doctor’s help and some healthy lifestyle changes.
If you experience erectile dysfunction occasionally or frequently, tell your doctor. The conversation can cover very personal territory, including:
- your sex story
- your recent sexual activity
- any relationship issues you may have
- questions about your physical and mental health
You may be advised to see a urologist who specializes in male and female urinary tract health and male reproductive health.
Your doctor will likely ask you to describe your symptoms and do a physical exam. Then they will go over your treatment options.
First-line treatments for erectile dysfunction include oral medications, such as sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis). In the United States, these drugs are only available by prescription and may not be covered by insurance.
If available, taking a generic form of an erectile dysfunction drug can help keep the cost down.
Oral medications work by encouraging blood flow to the penis in response to sexual stimulation. They can cause side effects. Your doctor may treat you for an underlying health problem and suggest lifestyle changes before prescribing oral medications.
If you don’t want to take prescription drugs, you can try an over-the-counter (OTC) treatment. Several herbal supplements, such as L-arginine and yohimbe, can be helpful, although they are not approved by the FDA.
If you decide to go this route, be sure to talk to your doctor first. They can help you determine if there is an underlying condition causing erectile dysfunction and if over-the-counter treatments are safe for you.
Lifestyle changes can also improve sexual function, especially if you are younger. For example, your doctor may suggest the following:
Other treatment options
In some cases, your doctor may suggest different types of treatment. These may include:
Erectile dysfunction can be a difficult and emotional topic to discuss with a partner. Being calm and pragmatic about it can help both of you deal with it in a proactive and positive way. As with any relationship challenge, one of the keys to overcoming it is healthy communication.
Be open and honest about how you are feeling and invite your partner to do the same. Leave space for your partner to ask questions, and don’t be afraid to share what you’ve learned about DE. This can help alleviate concerns or misconceptions about the cause of erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction can be disruptive, especially when it occurs in young men. And because erectile dysfunction has so many potential causes, it can sometimes take a bit of detective work to find its origin and develop an effective treatment plan.
Be patient and ask your partner for patience. Remember that erectile dysfunction is a common condition and can usually be treated. Talk to your doctor to determine the best treatment plan for you.