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Quarter of men presenting with erectile dysfunction 'are under 40'

One in four young men under the age of 40 has erectile dysfunction (ED), concludes a new study.

The study

Italian researchers looked at 790 consecutive sexually active patients seeking first medical help for new onset sexual dysfunction between January 2010 and June 2012 at an outpatient clinic. Some 56% were identified with new onset ED. Patients had to complete the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) and had their BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and circulating total testosterone levels recorded.

The findings

New onset ED was diagnosed in 114 (25.9%) of men under the age of 40 years. These men had a lower rate of co-morbidities (9.6% vs 41.7%), lower BMI (25.1 vs 26.4) and higher levels of circulating total testosterone levels (5.3ng/ml vs 4.5 ng/ml), compared with men with ED aged over 40 years. But the younger group of men were more likely to smoke (37.8% vs 24.6%) and to use illicit drugs such as cannabis (20.9% vs 9%) and cocaine (3.5% vs 0%) than older individuals. When the rates of ED severity were assessed, almost half of the young men (48.8%) had severe ED which is similar to what observed in older patients (40.6%).

What this means for GPs

The authors concluded: ‘In contrast to what has been reported by population studies of the prevalence of ED in young patients, our findings show that one out of four men seeking medical help for ED in the daily clinical practice of an outpatient clinic is a young man below the age of 40 years.’ They concluded: ‘Moreover, almost half of the young men suffered from severe ED, in a proportion comparable with that observed in older individuals.’