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1 in 4 Young Men Suffer Erectile Dysfunction, Study

Update Date: Jun 06, 2013 03:39 PM EDT

A new study reveals that erectile dysfunction is not just a problem for old men.  Researchers found that one in four men seeking medical attention for newly developed erectile dysfunction are younger than 40 years old, and nearly half of young men with the condition have severe ED.

The latest study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine reveals that erectile dysfunction in young men may be more prevalent and more serious than previously thought.

Researchers said that sexual dysfunction is a common complaint in men over 40 years old, and that prevalence increases with age.  However, the prevalence of risk factors of erectile dysfunction among younger men is vague, with studies reporting prevalence rates ranging between 2 percent to nearly 40 percent.

Lead researcher Dr. Paolo Capogrosso, of the University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, in Milan, Italy, and his colleagues, analyzed the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of 439 men seeking medical help for newly-developed erectile dysfunction between January 2010 and June 2012 at a single academic outpatient clinic.

Researchers said that of all the patients, 114 or 26 percent were younger than 40 years old. The study found that compared with older patients, younger patients had a lower average body mass index, a higher average level of testosterone in the blood and a lower rate of other medical conditions. For example only 9,6 percent of younger patients had one or more concomitant medical conditions compared with 41.7 percent of older patients.

However, researcher found that younger ED patients smoked cigarettes and used illegal substances more frequently than older patients.  Researchers found that premature ejaculation was also more common in younger men.

Researchers found that younger patients were significantly more likely to suffer severe erectile dysfunction than older patients.  The study revealed that 48.8 percent of younger patients and 40 percent of older patients suffered severe erectile dysfunction.

However, they rates of mild, mild-to-moderate, and moderate erectile dysfunction were not significantly different between the two groups.

"These findings, taken together with those of other studies showing the importance of erectile dysfunction as a potential 'sentinel marker' of major diseases, outline the importance of taking a comprehensive medical and sexual history and to perform a thorough physical examination in all men with erectile dysfunction, irrespective of their age," Capogrosso said in a news release.

"Erectile function, in general, is a marker for overall cardiovascular function - this is the first research showing evidence of severe erectile dysfunction in a population of men 40 years of age or younger" Irwin Goldstein, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, said in a statement.

"Clinically, when younger patients have presented with erectile dysfunction, we have in the past had a bias that their ED was primarily psychologic-based and vascular testing was not needed," Goldstein said.

"We now need to consider regularly assessing the integrity of arterial inflow in young patients - identifying arterial pathology in such patients may be very relevant to their overall long-term health," he added. 

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