About 5 percent of men that are 40 years old have complete erectile dysfunction, and that number increases to about 15 percent of men at age 70. Mild and moderate erectile dysfunction affects approximately 10 percent of men per decade of life (i.e., 50 percent of men in their 50s, 60 percent of men in their 60s). Erectile dysfunction can occur at any age, but it is more common in men that are older. Older men are more likely to have health conditions that require medication, which can interfere with erectile function. Additionally, as men age, they may need more stimulation to get an erection and more time between erections.
Like going bald, ED becomes more common as men age. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 5% of all 40-year-old men have ED and that number rises with age. Between 15% and 25% of 65-year-old men have ED. This is one of the reasons you see so many ED drug commercials during televised sporting events, Fox News programs, and other shows that typically attract men over 50 (just kidding, Fox).
What causes a man not to be erect?
As a relatively young man, Mher was in the minority of patients with erectile dysfunction, who are predominantly over the age of 50. But he's far from the only young man who's struggled with the condition. According to a 2013 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, an estimated one in four patients with new, onset ED are under the age of 40 — yet because we rarely hear about these men, they're left feeling embarrassed and alone.
It’s important not to take a bout of psychological ED personally. Still, when confronting a suddenly soft penis in the moment, “It’s not you” can be hard to believe. For instance, Erin, 22, tried—really tried—to make sex with Drew* happen. The first time his erection died right before they were about to have sex, she improvised and gave him “really long” oral instead. But the lack of a boner was confusing. “That had never happened to me with a sexual partner, so I was like, ‘Okay, he’s just not into me,’” Erin recalls.
Medications for erectile dysfunction don't work for everyone and may cause side effects that make a particular drug hard to take. "Work with your doctor to find the right treatment. There are still options for people who fail at medical treatment," advises Feloney. Alternatives to erectile dysfunction drugs include vacuum pump devices, medications injected into the penis, testosterone replacement if needed, and a surgical penile implant.
“With the success of Viagra-type drugs, there has been a tendency to start all patients with ED on one of these drugs and not look much further for a medical cause. But we now know that ED may be an early warning for heart and blood vessel disease, so it is important to look for common risk factors. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, medications, smoking, drinking, and drugs,” said Dr. Wang.
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to attain or maintain an erection adequate for the sexual satisfaction of both partners. At one time, doctors tended to blame ED on psychological problems or, with older men, on the normal aging process. Today, urologists say physical factors underlie perhaps 90% of cases of persistent erectile dysfunction in men older than 50.