Erectile dysfunction (ED) doesn’t only affect men over the age of 40. Younger men may also experience it. You might be reluctant to seek help for your ED, but talking to a doctor is important. The causes of erectile dysfunction in young men may not be obvious. There is a possibility that you have an underlying medical condition that requires treatment. Rest assured that you are not the only guy who has dealt with the issue. Seeking help to resolve it is vastly preferable to suffering through it.
Psychological causes of ED in young men
We all have stressors in life – they may evolve, but they’ll never completely go away. Some people seem genetically predisposed to stress out over everything – from the world’s economic woes to the laughable plot turns in the latest Indiana Jones movie. Okay, so maybe Indiana Jones doesn’t bother you so much, but there’s a pretty good chance that you’re stressed out about something. For younger men, psychological factors like stress are among the most common causes of erectile dysfunction.
You might be stressed out over financial issues, an illness in the family, or problems at work. Anxiety, particularly performance anxiety, can also contribute to the problem.
Unfortunately, if you’ve been experiencing ED, you likely feel anxious about that as well, which further compounds the problem. Depression can be another cause. If psychological issues might be contributing to ED, consider talking to a counselor or a close friend to work through your stressors.
Lifestyle factors that can cause ED in young men
A 2003 study found that smoking more than 20 cigarettes every day increases the risk of erectile dysfunction by 60%. In contrast, just 12% of men in the study who had never smoked experienced erectile dysfunction. The link between smoking and ED is well-established. Smoking interferes with proper circulation everywhere in your body, including the penis. Talk to your doctor about local programs that can help you kick the habit.
Drinking alcohol in moderation is not likely to cause erectile dysfunction, but drinking to excess certainly can. It is common lore that alcohol may facilitate the achievement of an erection by putting you “in the mood,” but that maintaining an erection is much more difficult under the influence. This is backed by scientific fact. In the short-term, drinking alcohol expands the blood vessels in the penis, allowing for an erection. However, those blood vessels cannot close to prevent backflow. Furthermore, long-term excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of hypertension and heart disease by damaging the blood vessels, which further increases the risk of ED.
Nutrition, exercise, and weight
If you eat a lot of fast food with plenty of red meat and nary a vegetable nor a fruit in sight, you are increasing your risk of developing erectile dysfunction. This type of diet also means that you are more likely to be overweight or obese. Men who are obese typically have lower levels of testosterone and poor blood circulation, both contributors to ED. Talk to your doctor about managing your weight. Choose a diet rich in fiber and antioxidants from produce, and skip the drive-thru. Likewise, incorporate exercise into your regular routine to support prostate health and lower your blood pressure. As a bonus, exercise can help reduce stress.
Drugs and medications
Recreational drugs and legitimate medications alike may lead to erectile dysfunction. If you use any drugs, talk to your doctor about whether they might be causing ED. Some of the recreational drugs that may cause erectile dysfunction include barbiturates, cocaine, marijuana, methadone, and amphetamines. Doctor-prescribed medications that might cause ED can include chemotherapy drugs, muscle relaxants, antihistamines, antidepressants, and even nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like naproxen or ibuprofen. Do not abruptly stop taking doctor-prescribed medications; talk to your doctor first.
Read more about causes of ED in young men here
David JL. Smoking can lead to erectile dysfunction. WebMD 2003 Mar 6