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Can Younger Men Experience Erectile Dysfunction?

  • Friday 10 September 2021
  • 4 minute(s) read

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How Do Erections Work?

The process of arousal and achieving an erection is complex. In healthy men, you see something you like, and it goes up. Simple, right? Even when all systems are working well, arousal requires psychological and physical elements that most men don’t take the time to analyze. Achieving an erection involves the brain, circulatory system, hormones, nerves, and muscles. Any issues in these areas may mean you need to take erectile dysfunction pills for a little help.

Psychological Causes of ED

An erection requires sexual excitement, and that starts in the brain. Your brain, in addition to your spinal cord, makes up your central nervous system. The penis is completely controlled by the central nervous system. When sexual stimulation is present, the brain signals the excitatory nerves in the penis to release nitric oxide and acetylcholine, chemical messengers that signal the smooth muscles in the arteries of the penis to relax and fill with blood. 1

a young man running his hand through his hair in distress

Mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety can disrupt brain function and lead to erectile dysfunction. Depression may arise from different factors, such as workplace disappointment, low self-esteem, or an indifferent outlook of the future. Anxiety can occur if you have experienced ED before and are worried it will happen again. Essentially, your sexual organs can’t fully perform if your brain isn’t functioning on all cylinders.

With all that being said, psychological causes are often more interlinked with physical causes than you may realize. For example, depression may seem like a psychological cause, but the antidepressants prescribed to depressed men can interact with ED treatment and cause physical ED symptoms.

Physical Causes

When the brain is working well, the next requirement for a healthy erection is an efficient circulatory system. If the arteries in your body are narrowed (atherosclerosis) due to high blood pressure or high cholesterol, the penis will have a hard time (not the hard time you want) filling with blood and becoming erect. This explains why ED is commonly caused by health conditions that affect the circulatory system.

Along with the circulatory system, your nerves also need to be in good shape. Conditions like diabetes cause high blood glucose levels, which can damage blood vessels and cause nerve damage.

Some men experience ED because of a hormonal disorder like low testosterone. Increased production of prolactin by the pituitary gland has also been known to cause ED. 2 Also, high or low levels of thyroid hormone are a risk factor, which may apply to you if you’ve been building muscle mass with steroids.

a smiling young man

Erectile Dysfunction in Younger Men

Studies show that 60 percent of men over 60 are affected by erectile dysfunction. This can be compared to 26 percent of men under 40 who have ED. 3 This comparison can be used to highlight the prevalence of ED in older men, but this comparison might not be painting the whole picture.

In the above statistics, only mild erectile dysfunction is studied. When severe ED is taken into consideration, only 40 percent of older men with ED are affected, while almost half of the younger men affected by ED experienced severe symptoms. Severe erectile dysfunction may be more prevalent in younger men because they are more likely to smoke or take drugs.

Recreational drugs, such as amphetamines, nicotine, weed, and heroin, can affect the smooth muscles in the penis, lower levels of testosterone, and narrow the blood vessels, leading to ED.

a man with a pill on his tongue

Seeking Help

The bottom line is that younger men face ED as well, and men of any age can be affected. But younger men have a good chance of overcoming erectile dysfunction if they identify the cause early on in treatment. The best example is how the nicotine level in your blood drops to zero just 24 hours after quitting smoking. After several days of quitting, carbon monoxide levels in the blood drop to the level of someone who doesn’t smoke. In one to two years, your risk of heart attack lowers significantly.

The body is resilient, and identifying the cause of your ED, whether mental or physical, is the first step in recovering. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing problems in the bedroom. Millions of men rely on erectile dysfunction treatment, so your doctor will understand, and you don’t have to be embarrassed. Speaking with your doctor and addressing the issue head-on is the best way to return to your peak sexual prowess as quickly as possible.

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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