Why Erectile Dysfunction in Young Men is on the Rise

Written by: Andrés Suro



Time to read 5 min

Erectile Dysfunction in Young Men

Although it may seem surprising, erectile dysfunction in young men is a problem that has gained visibility in recent years for more than obvious reasons. Traditionally associated with older men, this condition now affects an increasing number of young people. Experts point to multiple lifestyle and psychological factors contributing to this phenomenon. Among them, stress, pressure to perform sexually, and unhealthy habits such as excessive alcohol or tobacco consumption.

But what has marked a before and after in how young people experience sexuality is the influence of digital media, which has changed the expectations and perceptions young people have about sexuality. Constant exposure to sexualized images and easy access to adult content distort reality, creating unrealistic expectations that many young people find difficult to meet in their personal relationships. But before we talk about the severity of this matter, we must answer the most basic question:

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction, commonly known as impotence, is the persistent inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient to carry out satisfactory sexual activity. Traditionally, it has been associated with physical health factors such as cardiovascular problems or diabetes, however, psychological components such as performance anxiety or stress are increasingly recognized.

Many young men may experience occasional episodes of erectile dysfunction due to stress or nervousness, termed as sudden loss of erection (or more popularly as "flop"). But when it becomes a recurrent problem, it is essential to address it. One thing we must be clear about erectile dysfunction is that it not only affects one's sexual health but also tends to impact their emotional well-being and the quality of their intimate relationships. And that is why it is necessary for us to talk about how porn affects the sexuality of young people.

young man watching porn in his computer on his bed

How Pornography Affects Erectile Dysfunction

Porn-induced erectile dysfunction is an increasingly discussed topic in studies on sexual problems in young people. Unlimited access to pornographic material leads many young people to overstimulation, which paradoxically results in a decreased response capacity during actual sexual encounters.

This type of erectile dysfunction, unlike that caused by other reasons, such as medical issues (diabetes, cardiovascular problems...), is characterized by dependence on intense visual stimuli to achieve and maintain an erection, which ultimately diminishes sensitivity to more realistic stimuli.

The brain, accustomed to the high level of excitement that porn offers, fails to respond as easily under less stimulating conditions, leading to episodes of erectile dysfunction. Additionally, constant consumption of porn can lead to a distortion in the perception of normal sexuality, affecting interaction with the partner and the sexual experience as a whole.

Other Causes of Erectile Dysfunction in Young Men

No, it's not all about porn. And although it is one of the reasons why the sexuality of young people is changing so much in recent years, there are other reasons that we cannot ignore. There are both physical and psychological factors. In terms of health conditions, we have already mentioned diabetes, but hypertension and obesity also significantly affect, as well as the use of medications that have erection-related side effects, such as antidepressants.

From a psychological standpoint, fear of failure is a common cause that in some cases triggers a vicious cycle of anxiety and dysfunction. That is, one experiences an isolated episode of sudden loss of erection, which generates concern in the person suffering from it and begins to think that it will happen again, creating a cycle where anxiety increases the risk of dysfunction and dysfunction feeds the reasons to have more anxiety.

Another important factor is a sedentary lifestyle, which not only affects blood circulation and energy levels but also self-esteem and body image. These aspects are fundamental for a healthy and active sexual life, and their deterioration can directly affect the individual's erectile capacity. Regarding self-image, we must also mention how social networks have turned beauty standards into something unrealistic, leading to increasingly inaccessible physical image standards. As a final result: widespread self-esteem issues among young people.

Consequences of Erectile Dysfunction in Young Men

The repercussions of erectile dysfunction in young men transcend beyond the sexual sphere, profoundly impacting various aspects of personal and social life. One of the most significant effects, as we have already mentioned, is the loss of self-esteem and self-confidence. Many young men often express feeling less masculine or inadequate when facing erection problems, which often leads to a state of anxiety or depression.

As a consequence, we see how more and more young men turn to drugs to avoid having erection losses when going out partying or on a date. On the other hand, many of those who have a partner comment that erectile dysfunction increases tensions and conflicts in their relationships, causing conflicts and emotional distancing.

a young asian man sad after arguing with his boyfriend, who is in the back

Ultimately, the fear of sexual failure increases the likelihood that young men will avoid intimate relationships, which in turn affects their ability to establish lasting romantic relationships. These problems, if not properly addressed, can affect the quality of life and the emotional and relational development of the individual in the long term. But is there something we can do?

What Can We Do? Solutions for Erectile Dysfunction in Young Men

After what we have discussed, the landscape might seem rather pessimistic. But do not be swayed by the feeling of defeat and hopelessness. There are several ways to combat erectile dysfunction, and facing it requires an approach that takes into account both medical and psychological issues (and, of course, lifestyle). So, the first thing to do is see a health professional to rule out or treat any underlying medical condition.

If there is nothing to worry about physically, it's time to address the psychological reasons. Generally, the younger a person with erectile dysfunction is, the more likely it is that the cause of their dysfunction is due to this more mental-related typology. Therefore, psychological therapy is often quite effective as the primary option to address it, especially to work on anxiety and self-image issues that may be contributing to the dysfunction.

Lifestyle change is another fundamental pillar. This includes improving the diet, increasing physical activity, reducing alcohol and tobacco consumption, and establishing a healthy sleep routine. Sexual education that promotes a realistic and healthy view of sexuality is also crucial to counteract the negative effects of the distortion caused by excessive consumption of pornography.

a young man running on a road

Forecast: Where Are We Heading?

The increase in erectile dysfunction in young men is a phenomenon that concerns not only the medical community but also society at large. As more young men acknowledge having erection problems, it is essential to address the underlying causes and offer concrete and accessible solutions.

In this sense, this increase highlights the need for greater sexual education in schools and a clearer discussion about sexual problems and easy access to explicit content platforms. As men, it's time for us to understand and destigmatize erectile dysfunction to promote a proactive approach to full and integral sexual health

Andrés Suro

Author: Andrés Suro  (Sexual Coach at MYHIXEL)

Psychologist specialized in the social area and expert in sexology applied to education.