Erectile dysfunction in early, middle, and late adulthood: symptom patterns and psychosocial correlates

J Sex Marital Ther. 2003 Oct-Dec;29(5):381-99. doi: 10.1080/00926230390224756.


The prevalence of erectile dysfunction (ED) increases with age. However, it may emerge at any time during the adult years, and may bear a close relationship to ongoing psychosocial issues affecting the patient and his partner. The present study examined ED symptomatology and its associated psychosocial context in 560 men aged 19-87 attending a urology clinic for erectile difficulties. We divided participants into three age groups: early adulthood (age 19-39); middle adulthood (40-59); and late adulthood (60+). They completed a self-report assessment battery evaluating medical, psychological, and lifestyle factors empirically or theoretically related to ED. Results showed that although younger men reported more positive overall ratings of their sex life and better overall erectile functioning relative to older men, they also reported comparatively less relationship satisfaction, greater depressive symptomatology, more negative reactions from partners, and less job satisfaction. Results suggest that older men experience less difficulty than younger men adjusting to life with ED.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Coitus / psychology*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States