How Common is ED? Am I Unusual?

How Common is ED? Am I Unusual?

Erectile dysfunction affects the sexual health of many men around the world and can make having a good sex life difficult. However, understanding what erectile dysfunction is - and how common it is - can be a great first step toward seeking treatment for it. Here is a quick breakdown of everything you need to know about ED - and what might help with symptoms once you’ve been diagnosed.

Just How Common is ED?

ED is incredibly common - it’s important to know you aren’t alone! In the US alone, studies have shown that ED affects up to 47% of all men*; although it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact number due to the wide range of different measures used in studies to evaluate ED.

Not only that, but there are a variety of reasons that can cause short-term and long-term erectile dysfunction, including:

  • Physical and health conditions that involve different systems in the body, such as the vascular, neurological, or endocrine systems; can include issues with nerve signals or blood flow to the penis.
  • Side effects from medication, which can include antidepressants, medication to manage blood pressure, tranquilizers, sedatives, ulcer medication, and prostate cancer therapy.
  • Psychological or emotional causes such as depression, anxiety, fear associated with sexual performance, general stress, or low self-esteem.
  • Lifestyle behaviors and health-related factors that are associated with ED include smoking, being overweight, lack of exercise, and substance (alcohol or drug) use.

What are the Key Symptoms of ED?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get and maintain an erection that’s firm enough for sexual intercourse. Men who experience ED have decreased blood flow to the penis, which could be caused by a variety of different things - from drug side effects to stress or high blood pressure.

Here are the most common symptoms of ED:

  • Difficulty getting an erection
  • Difficulty maintaining an erection
  • Reduced interest in sexual activity
  • Low self-esteem

The treatment for ED starts with taking care of your heart and vascular health, if that is determined to be a factor. Your doctor may point out ‘risk factors' that can be changed or improved, or you may be asked to change certain food habits, stop smoking, increase workouts, or stop using drugs or alcohol. If your erectile issues are being caused by emotional difficulties, such as relationship conflicts, life stressors, depression, or anxiety, it’s important to work with your doctor to determine the right treatment course of action for you.

The best way to prevent erectile dysfunction is to make healthy lifestyle choices and to manage any existing health conditions.

What Can Help with Symptoms of ED?

More often than not, your healthcare provider will recommend a noninvasive course of action for your erectile dysfunction symptoms. It’s always a good idea to ask your doctor about the different potential side effects that could result. A few common ed treatment options include:

Additionally, taking up healthy habits such as exercise (particularly aerobic exercise) have been shown to help with erectile issues and overall cardiovascular health.

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*Mulhall, J. P., Luo, X., Zou, K. H., Stecher, V., & Galaznik, A. (2016, December). Relationship between age and erectile dysfunction diagnosis or treatment using real-world observational data in the USA. International journal of clinical practice. (Resource link).

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