ED Overview

ED is highly prevalent, estimated to affect 30 million men or 18% in the United States and more than 100 million men worldwide (1-3). According to the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, of the 52%, 17% had mild symptoms, 25% moderate, and 10% severe.

Although normally associated with ED, a more recent study looked at the overall prevalance of ED in men in a younger age category. The National Health Social and Life Survey determined that  31% of men aged 18-59 experienced some form of ED.

The chart below explains these figures in greater detail:

Age (Years) ED Prevalance
18-29 7%
30-39 9%
40-49 11%
50-59 18%

There have been several recent studies that have looked at the prevalence of erectile dysfunction. The Massachusetts male aging study, conducted from 1987 to 1989 in areas around Boston, was a cross-sectional random sample community-based survey of 1290 men ages 40 to 70 years. Erectile dysfunction was self-reported and the condition was classified as mild, moderate, or complete. The combined percentage of minimal, moderate, and complete erectile dysfunction was 52%. The study demonstrated that erectile dysfunction is increasingly common with age. At age 40, there is an approximately 40% prevalence rate, increasing to almost 70% in men at age 70. The commonness of moderate erectile dysfunction increases from 17% to approximately 34% the prevalence of complete erectile dysfunction increases from 5% to 15% as age increases from 40 to 70 years.

Although the age variable was most strongly associated with erectile dysfunction, ED was found more likely when paired with was with heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and associated medications. Cigarette smoking in this study did not show a greater probability of complete erectile dysfunction. However, when it was associated with heart disease and hypertension, a higher probability of erectile dysfunction was noted. The study concluded that erectile dysfunction is a major health concern in light of its ubiquity.

Incidence estimates have been published using data compiled from the Massachusetts male aging study. Incidence data are necessary to assess risk and plan treatment and prevention strategies. The Massachusetts study data have suggested there will be approximately 17,781 new cases of erectile dysfunction in Massachusetts and 617,715 in the United States annually. The national incidence estimate may underestimate the true prevalence because Massachusetts is largely white; therefore, it is likely the data are underestimated nationally for African Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities.

A large national study, the National Health and Social Life Survey (1992), examined sexual function in men and women. This study surveyed 1410 men ages 18 to 59 years, and it also documented an increase in erectile dysfunction with age. Additionally, the study found a decrease in sexual desire with increasing age. The oldest cohort of men (ages 50 to 59 years) was more than three times as likely to experience erection problems and to report low sexual desire in comparison with men ages 18 to 29 years. In this study, there was a higher prevalence of sexual dysfunction in men who had never married or were divorced. Experience of sexual dysfunction was more likely among men in poor physical and emotional health. It was also concluded that sexual dysfunction is an important public health concern and added that emotional issues are likely to contribute to the experience of these problems.

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