Sexual Dysfunction Among Young Men: Overview of Dietary Components Associated With Erectile Dysfunction

J Sex Med. 2018 Feb;15(2):176-182. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2017.12.008. Epub 2018 Jan 8.


Background: Sexual dysfunction is relatively common in young men, presenting in diverse manifestations, including erectile dysfunction (ED), for which dietary modifications, including increased intake of dietary antioxidants, have been suggested as promising and cost-efficient approaches.

Aim: To assess the consumption of selected dietary antioxidants, in particular flavonoids, in relation to ED symptoms in young men.

Methods: Men 18 to 40 years old were invited to complete an anonymous web-based questionnaire for this case-control study. ED was diagnosed with the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) and flavonoid intake was recorded using food-frequency questionnaires, with an emphasis on flavonoid-rich foods such as coffee, fruits, etc. Participants without ED (IIEF score ≥ 26; n = 264) formed the control group and those with ED (IIEF score < 26; n = 86) formed the case group.

Outcomes: Dietary flavonoid intake.

Results: Men with ED reported a lower median monthly intake of total flavonoids (-2.18 g, 95% CI = -3.15 to -1.21, P < .001) and all flavonoid subclasses (P < .001) compared with controls. Adjustment of intake for age and body mass index showed that consumption of flavonoids 50 mg/day lowered the risk for ED by 32% (odds ratio = 0.68, 95% CI = 0.55-0.85, P < .001). Of all recorded flavonoids, flavones appeared to contribute the most to healthy erectile function. Controls reported a greater consumption of vegetables and fruits, a lower intake of dairy and alcoholic beverages, and a less intense smoking habit compared with cases (P < .001).

Clinical implications: Increased intake of fruits, vegetables, and flavonoids decreases the risk of ED in young men.

Strength and limitations: The strength of this study stems from the innovative hypothesis, the young age of participants, and the suggested therapeutic effects of cheap dietary components against ED. Limitations include the relatively small sample and cross-sectional design.

Conclusion: Low flavonoid-in particular flavone-intake is associated with ED in young adult men. Mykoniatis I, Grammatikopoulou MG, Bouras E, et al. Sexual Dysfunction Among Young Men: Overview of Dietary Components Associated With Erectile Dysfunction. J Sex Med 2018;15:176-182.

Keywords: Antioxidants; Diet; Fruits; Sexual Dysfunction; Sexual Health; Vegetables.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / epidemiology*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Flavones / administration & dosage
  • Flavonoids / administration & dosage
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavones
  • Flavonoids
  • flavone