WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — A recent study finds that one-in-four men who are seeking medical assistance for erectile dysfunction are under the age of forty.
While larger population-based studies are needed, the findings published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggest that erectile dysfunction in young men may be more prevalent and more serious than previously thought.
“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,” noted Irwin Goldstein, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
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.”
Although more detailed research is needed in the future, more clarity was provided by Dr. Paolo Capogrosso of the University of Vita-Salute San Raffaele in Milan, Italy.
He and his colleagues assessed the socio-demographic 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.
Of the 439 patients, 114 (26 percent) were aged 40 years or younger.
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. (Only 9.6 percent of younger patients had one or more concomitant medical conditions compared with 41.7 percent among older patients.)
Younger ED patients were found to smoke cigarettes and used illicit drugs more frequently than older patients.
“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,” said Dr. Capogrosso.