Why Are ED Rates Skyrocketing In Men?
January 6, 2020
In the last twenty to thirty years, ED rates have skyrocketed, especially among younger men. Although ED is not as common in young men, it can still affect about 25 percent of men under the age of 40. However, only about 5 percent of all men under 40 have complete ED.
It begs the question, why are more men being diagnosed with ED?
Some research suggests that these numbers are overinflated due to the fact that what “defines” ED is broad and does not reflect true “complete ED.” Others argue that the rate of ED has increased because men are more aware of the issue and are more willing to discuss the symptoms and seek care than previously. And as a result, the number of ED cases reported are reflected more accurately than they were years ago.
Another theory suggests that certain disease processes that contribute or predispose men to ED are more common today and therefore play a larger role in ED. One final idea points to the stressors that are rampant and frequent in society today which also can influence ED.
But in order to totally understand the increase of ED diagnoses, let’s break it down and look at each argument regarding the “increase” in erectile dysfunction today.
Erectile Dysfunction is defined as the inability to achieve and/or maintain an erection. This definition is broad and does not take into account if it’s an intermittent issue, temporary issue or an issue that takes place every single time an erection is attempted (regardless of circumstance).
Achieving an erection is a complex process involving psychological impulses from the brain, adequate levels of the male sex hormone testosterone, a functioning nervous system, and adequate and healthy vascular tissue in the penis. All of these components can be influenced by multiple factors and don’t always come into play every time an erection is attempted.
Complete ED is defined as the inability to achieve and/or maintain an erection regardless of circumstance. When we confirm an ED diagnosis, you will be told which type you have and you will be given specific instructions on how to approach your unique scenario.
Now that you know a little bit more about erectile dysfunction and our ED diagnosis process, we can start figuring out why rates have increased so dramatically in recent years.
Men Aren’t Ashamed Anymore
Today, men are much more comfortable discussing ED than they were many years ago. With the advent of ED medications and advertisements bringing the issue to the forefront, it afforded men to be more open to discussing ED and diagnosis concerns.
Men began to categorize ED as a medical condition that could be treated versus a condition that should be kept secret. At first, men thought of it as a reflection of their masculinity and worth as a man. But once it was understood and accepted widely that ED is a true and treatable medical condition that disrupted quality of life, more men became willing to seek help from their doctors and discuss diagnosis and treatment options.
Because of this, more cases were being reported and the impact of the numbers on research was likely influenced. However, this shift in culture wasn’t the only thing contributing to increased ED diagnoses.
Medical conditions that cause or predispose men to ED are on the rise
We live in a world with more processed and fast foods, work that is sedentary, and unhealthy life choices available right at our fingertips. And because of this, chronic health diseases such as hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes are on the rise.
These medical conditions, if left untreated, can destroy the vascular and nerve tissues involved in achieving and maintaining erections. Additionally, due to advancements in medicine, other health conditions have been uncovered as potential offenders, as well.
Hormonal imbalances including testosterone, thyroid disorders and pituitary disorders can play a role in ED as well. While mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can also contribute to ED. And if you didn’t care about the reciprocal effects of alcohol, smoking, drug and anabolic steroid abuse before, you might now that you know it can increase ED in men. There’s no denying that life gets hard and stressful. And there’s no denying that those stressors can have an impact on your body, specifically with ED.
Stressing Doesn’t Lead to Flexing
Day to day life has become more complicated with concerns regarding work obligations, finances, relationship stress, performance anxiety, family responsibilities and the perceived demands of society in general.
Not only does this increase stress levels which can cause ED, but it can put the priority of self-care at the bottom of the list. Simple self-care routines such as exercise, sleep, healthy eating, decreasing stress through positive outlets versus using alcohol or drugs, and the ability to communicate with intimate partners are imperative. While all of these “self-care” techniques are vital to overall good health, they can also play a role in ED treatment.
So are more men “getting” ED or are the complexities of ED just better understood and more widely discussed? Research will continue to explore this as men have become more comfortable in seeking treatment. The most important point is that no matter the cause, ED is often temporary and treatable if addressed.
Interested in coming to the Austin Urology Institute for ED diagnosis and/or treatment? Just have some questions about your particular scenario? Drop us a note or give us a call at 512-535-2174. We’re here to help.