A sad middle-aged man

Erectile dysfunction (ED) occurs when a person cannot get a hard erection or maintain an erect penis during sex.

Research shows that ED can happen quickly or progress more slowly, but at what age can you get erectile dysfunction, and what causes erectile dysfunction?

At OHN, we know things are good when they’re hard!

We’re dedicated to your sexual healthcare—on hand, anywhere, anytime.

Let’s talk about these issues.

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction

When researchers began studying what causes ED, many of them blamed psychogenic disorders. In plain language, researchers concluded that mental or emotional issues cause erectile dysfunction.

Psychogenic ED Symptoms

People with psychogenic erectile dysfunction often experience one or more of these symptoms:

  • The sudden onset and ongoing difficulty in getting or maintaining an erection
  • Inconsistent sexual performance (a person may experience an erection during self-pleasure but not penetrative sex)
  • Performance anxiety (worrying about being unable to get hard before sex even happens).

If a person experiencing erectile dysfunction can still get nocturnal (nighttime) erections, it’s a clue that their ED is psychogenic-related.

Psychogenic issues aren’t the sole cause of ED. Current research suggests that organic etiologies (plain language: physical health problems) also cause erectile dysfunction.

Organic ED Symptoms

At What Age Can You Get ED_ Organic symptoms

As more people are diagnosed and treated for erectile dysfunction, data shows that physical health problems cause 80% (or more) of ED cases.

Organic erectile dysfunction has two categories:

  • Nonendocrine causes of organic ED include heart disease, vascular diseases (disorders of the arteries, veins, or circulatory system), elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol levels
  • Endocrine causes of organic ED are generally due to hormonal imbalances in the body.

People suffering from any kind of organic ED usually experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • The gradual onset of erection difficulties
  • Erection difficulties become progressively worse over time
  • Incidences of ED occur more frequently.

One characteristic often found in people with organic ED is that their erections can be better standing than lying down. The reason for this is a venous leak in the penis.

What Is a Venous Leak?

A healthy amount of stored blood is required in the penis to enable a hard and lasting erection. If the veins in a person’s body get narrowed or clogged, the blood can’t hold in the penis, and getting an erection becomes difficult or impossible.

Lifestyle Risk Factors

A person’s lifestyle may put them at greater risk of experiencing ED. The following lifestyle factors contribute to erectile dysfunction:

  • Smoking 
  • Inadequate exercise or physical activity
  • Being overweight
  • Excessive recreational drug use
  • Drinking too much alcohol.

An interesting finding to note here: medical research has proven that moderate exercise and a healthy weight can maintain good erectile function throughout your lifetime.

The Takeaway on ED Causes

We’ve read the research, and we understand the lifestyle factors that contribute to erectile dysfunction. But, the fact is, every person’s situation is unique, and the causes can overlap.

For instance, a person with organic ED often experiences mental health issues such as performance anxiety or depression that affect their quality of life and personal relationships.

How Does Age Affect ED?

At What Age Can You Get ED_

Younger people are concerned, and they want to know what age men can get erectile dysfunction. Decades ago, researchers assumed that ED only happens to older men, but current medical research paints a different picture.

A current American study indicated that up to 40% of men in their 40s might experience some form of erectile dysfunction, and the percentage rises 10% each decade, which means:

  • Up to 50% of men in their 50s are at risk of experiencing ED
  • For men in their 60s, the risk goes up to 60%.

Erectile Dysfunction in Men Over 40

It’s natural for the penis and sexual organs to experience changes with age.

After the age of 40, specific changes may include decreased testosterone levels in the body. The funny thing is, testosterone levels aren’t dropping—but testosterone levels appear to decrease because the body produces more of a sex-hormone binding protein (SHBG).

SHBG sticks to testosterone in the bloodstream and makes testosterone less productive in the body. A person may notice changes to their body as their testosterone levels fall. These changes include:

  • A loss of pubic hair
  • A decrease in penis size or shape
  • The shape of the testicles or scrotum is noticeably different

Decreased testosterone levels aren’t necessarily a guarantee that a person will suffer from ED. Sometimes, the penis becomes less rigid with lower testosterone, but a person can still enjoy intercourse and achieve orgasm.

Still, it’s natural and expected that the penis functions differently as a person ages. Some of these changes are due to the nerves in the body becoming less sensitive. In this situation, a person has trouble getting aroused or reaching orgasm.

Remember we talked about a venous leak? The muscles surrounding the penis can weaken with age, and the penis can’t become hard or erect because the body can’t hold enough blood in the penis. That’s also considered a venous leak.

Essential Things You Can Do

At What Age Can You Get ED

The ageing process is a normal part of life, including a decrease in muscle mass and increased fat density in the body.

That doesn’t mean you should give up!

As you age, a healthy diet, proper sleep, adequate exercise, and a reduced alcohol intake can be positive for your health and minimize your risks of ED, and if you smoke, there’s no time like now to quit.

Young People With Erectile Dysfunction

The bulk of currently available medical research tells us that ED risks increase with age. So why are younger men (from 20 to 40 years old) coming forward to say they’re suffering from ED, and what causes erectile dysfunction in this age group?

The research on ED in younger men previously concluded that psychogenic (mental or emotional) issues were the leading cause of ED in men under 40. However, this assumption is now changing, as more organic (physical) conditions in younger men get associated with an increased risk of ED.

Organic ED in Young People

Some data on erectile dysfunction in younger people is surprising, as researchers have discovered that up to 72% of ED cases in men under 40 are organic.

Here are some organic (physical) conditions causing ED in a younger age group:

  • Vascular diseases of the blood vessels, arteries, and circulatory system
  • Peyronie’s disease
  • Side effects from prescribed medications like antidepressants and NSAIDs
  • Epilepsy and the side effects of antiepileptic medications
  • Traumatic injuries to the spinal cord.

On a positive note: if you’re concerned about what age you can get erectile dysfunction, the best thing you can do is what you’re doing right now! Reading up on the subject and knowing there are treatments available is a significant step. Now, on with more facts.

Psychogenic ED in Young People

At What Age Can You Get ED_ Psychogenic_symptoms

If you’ve dealt with performance anxiety in your sexual relationships, please know this is a real challenge for many younger people.

Other mental and emotional issues can also make you more vulnerable to erectile dysfunction, and we’re talking about these issues without shame.

Here are some psychogenic (mental or emotional) issues that can cause ED in younger people:

  • Internet pornography: the web makes it very easy to find explicit material for masturbation and self-pleasure, but people who become vulnerable can’t get an erection or climax without using pornography.
  • Anxiety or depression: sexual failures can create negative distractions that make it impossible to get aroused, and anxieties can lead to depression and avoidance of sex.

If your mental or emotional health is at risk, you are not alone. We understand how you feel and how it could affect your sexual health, and you can trust us. 

Lifestyle Risk Factors in Younger People

Indulging in habits that aren’t the healthiest can put any man at greater risk of getting erectile dysfunction. These lifestyle risk factors include:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Heavier use of illicit drugs or substances.

Clinical data shows that lifestyle risks account for nearly half of all severe ED cases in younger people, although men of all ages are susceptible.

Treating ED at Any Age

The causes of erectile dysfunction may not discriminate based on your age, and what age you can get erectile dysfunction may depend on your lifestyle choices and overall health.

Are you experiencing ED symptoms right now? Then, we’re here for you. Book your ED consultation today!


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