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Erectile Dysfunction and Younger Men

A 2007 scientific survey concluded than one quarter of all Australian men have problems associated with maintaining an erection. While most prevalent in older men, the disorder is relatively common among younger men aged between 20 and 30 years of age. Many men with erectile dysfunction suffer from the condition in silence and do not see a doctor for treatment.

Researchers surveyed 1,500 West Australian men aged 20 years or older, who were randomly selected from the electoral roll. They found 25.1 per cent suffered erectile dysfunction and 8.5 per cent suffered severly from the condition. Researchers said it was likely that their findings applied nationwide.

Despite a great majority of sufferers having experienced the condition for more than a year, only 14 per cent said they had received any treatment. Researchers from Western Australia’s Keogh Institute of Medical Research concluded that while erectile dysfunction is highly prevalent in Western Australia, it is generally under-diagnosed and grossly undertreated.

The study also highlighted the fact that the disorder was relatively common among men aged in their twenties, although it was most prevalent in people over the age of 50.

About one in six people between the aged in their twenties had the problem, compared to about one in four people aged in their thirties. Researchers said that stress relating to early adulthood, relationships, responsibilities associated with employment and independent living away from the family home were also possible contributory factors.

This study was a collaboration between researchers at Keogh Institute, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, the University of Western Australia and the University of Queensland and has been published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.


Erectile dysfunction is the persistent inability to achieve and/or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual activity. Around 100 million men world wide are estimated to have some degree of ED, with around 30 million men in the United States, compared to around 1 million men in Australia who have the condition.

The first report on the prevalence of erectile dysfunction in Australia was a study by Dr Chew from the Keogh Institute for Medical Research in Perth.

The study confirmed that age is the most significant contributing demographic factor leading to erectile dysfunction, with 60 years of age being the turning point where desire exceeds potency and sexual frequency diminishes. The study found that 52% of men aged between 40 and 70 years had some form of erectile dysfunction, with almost 60% of 60-year-old men had the condition.

The study found that sexual function was also affected with risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, obesity and a high cholesterol levels with a low concentration of high-density lipoprotein. Vigorous exercise was also found to be protective. The Perth study also found diabetes mellitus (types 1 and 2) to be significant contributors to erectile dysfunction.

The growing incidence of erectile dysfunction is related primarily to a growing ageing population worldwide, a rise in the prevalence of risk factors (such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease) and an increase in treatment for prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Western men and, erectile dysfunction is a common side effect of cancer treatment. Despite this, it is estimated that close to 90% of erectile dysfunction sufferers are still reluctant to visit a doctor because of embarrassment.

Furthermore, the US National Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS) concluded that although 31% of American men aged 18-59 years of age suffered from some form of sexual dysfunction, it found that only 19% of men reporting sexual problems actively sought any medical advice.

About the Author

has over 20 years experience as a sexual health medical practitioner and has specific expertise in male sexual dysfunction.