One patient out of four with newly diagnosed erectile dysfunction is a young man--worrisome picture from the everyday clinical practice

J Sex Med. 2013 Jul;10(7):1833-41. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12179. Epub 2013 May 7.


Introduction: Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common complaint in men over 40 years of age, and prevalence rates increase throughout the aging period. Prevalence and risk factors of ED among young men have been scantly analyzed.

Aim: Assessing sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of young men (defined as ≤ 40 years) seeking first medical help for new onset ED as their primary sexual disorder.

Methods: Complete sociodemographic and clinical data from 439 consecutive patients were analyzed. Health-significant comorbidities were scored with the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI). Patients completed the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF).

Main outcome measure: Descriptive statistics tested sociodemographic and clinical differences between ED patients ≤ 40 years and >40 years.

Results: New onset ED as the primary disorder was found in 114 (26%) men ≤ 40 years (mean [standard deviation [SD]] age: 32.4 [6.0]; range: 17-40 years). Patients ≤ 40 years had a lower rate of comorbid conditions (CCI = 0 in 90.4% vs. 58.3%; χ(2) , 39.12; P < 0.001), a lower mean body mass index value (P = 0.005), and a higher mean circulating total testosterone level (P = 0.005) as compared with those >40 years. Younger ED patients more frequently showed habit of cigarette smoking and use of illicit drug, as compared with older men (all P ≤ 0.02). Premature ejaculation was more comorbid in younger men, whereas Peyronie's disease was prevalent in the older group (all P = 0.03). At IIEF, severe ED rates were found in 48.8% younger men and 40% older men, respectively (P > 0.05). Similarly, rates of mild, mild-to-moderate, and moderate ED were not significantly different between the two groups.

Conclusions: This exploratory analysis showed that one in four patients seeking first medical help for new onset ED was younger than 40 years. Almost half of the young men suffered from severe ED, with comparable rates in older patients. Overall, younger men differed from older individuals in terms of both clinical and sociodemographic parameters.

Keywords: Age; Clinical Practice; Comorbidities; Elderly; Erectile Dysfunction; Health Status; International Index of Erectile Function; Risk Factors; Young.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Comorbidity
  • Erectile Dysfunction / diagnosis
  • Erectile Dysfunction / epidemiology*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / etiology
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Penile Induration / complications
  • Penile Induration / epidemiology
  • Premature Ejaculation / diagnosis
  • Premature Ejaculation / epidemiology
  • Premature Ejaculation / etiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Young Adult


  • Testosterone