Up to half of men under 50 suffer from erectile dysfunction, research claims

Conrad Duncan

Up to half of men under the age of 50 are suffering from erectile dysfunction as impotence rates have more than doubled in the last 25 years, according to a study.

Scientists have warned that the condition is becoming alarmingly common for men under 50 but said it could help identify those most at risk of heart attacks, strokes or premature death.

Erectile dysfunction can be an early warning sign of high blood pressure or cholesterol and diabetes.

Impotence has also been linked with increased risks of cardiovascular disease (CVD), dementia and early death.

Anna Kessler, the first author of the study, said physicians should consider screening for erectile dysfunction because men may not want to voluntary offer the information themselves.

"Due to the sensitive nature of the topic, physicians should consider screening for erectile dysfunction in at-risk patients, as information may not be volunteered," she said.

Ms Kessler, a urologist at King’s College London, added that “young men aged under 40 years had an exceptionally high prevalence of erectile dysfunction.”

Her team pooled data from dozens of studies involving tens of thousands of participants, from teenagers to adults in their 80s, across the world.

Up to 50 per cent of under 50s were affected, with one study of under 40s in Brazil finding the condition was more common in 18 to 25 year olds (35.6 per cent) than those aged 26 to 40 (30.7 per cent).

As erections depend on a healthy blood flow to the penis, erectile dysfunction can be linked to serious illnesses.

The risk of death from CVD rose 43 per cent among men with erectile dysfunction and those with the condition were 68 per cent more likely to develop dementia.

It is estimated 322 million men worldwide will be affected by 2025, an increase from 152 million men in 1995.

Ms Kessler also noted the impact on quality of life for men with the condition and their partners.

"Partners of men with erectile dysfunction experience lower sexual satisfaction, correlated to the degree of erectile dysfunction in their partner,” she said.

"The global prevalence of erectile dysfunction is high and represents a significant burden on the quality of life of men and their partners.”

The study follows a survey of young British men earlier this year that found six in ten avoided sex because of “performance anxiety”.

Around 11.7 million men in the UK said they struggled with sex, with one in eight experiencing problems every time, according to the research.

In 2017, it was revealed the number of prescriptions for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs containing the active ingredient sildenafil had tripled in Britain in a decade.

Agencies contributed to this report