Nearly two thirds of men over 45 report erectile dysfunction: study

Two thirds of Australian men aged 45 and over are at risk of suffering from erectile dysfunction. Shutterstock

Almost two thirds of men aged 45 and over have reported experiencing erectile dysfunction, a new study has shown.

The study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, examined data on health, socio-demographic and lifestyle factors on 108,477 men aged 45 and over living in NSW who took part in the 45 and Up Study between 2006 and 2010.

They found that 61% of men surveyed had been affected by erectile dysfunction.

Study co-author David Smith, Associate Professor in Epidemiology and Research Fellow at the Cancer Council NSW, said prostate cancer treatment is known to increase the likelihood of erectile dysfunction but that some men undergoing cancer treatment may not be fully aware of the risks.

“Some men are unaware, or they may miss the quick sentence or two about the complications of erectile function as they’re so focused on getting the cancer treated,” he said.

“And many men may neglect their erectile health until they’re well enough to think about it, and often by that stage the issues have compounded themselves and they’re unlikely to get an erection again,” he said.

In the 101, 674 men studied who reported no prior diagnosis of prostate cancer, 39.31% had no erectile dysfunction, 25.14% had mild erectile dysfunction, 18.79% had moderate erectile dysfunction and 16.77% had complete erectile dysfunction.

The researchers found that the odds of experiencing erectile dysfunction increased by 11.3% each year over the age of 45, and almost all men aged 75 and over reported moderate or severe erectile dysfunction.

“Overall, the risk of moderate/complete ED was higher among men with low socioeconomic status, high body mass index, those who were sedentary, current smokers and those with diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and depression/anxiety, compared with men without these risk factors. Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a significantly reduced risk of ED in men aged 45–54 years, but not in older men,” the study found.

Men who experience erectile dysfunction should see their doctor, the experts said. Shutterstock

Professor Rob McLachlan, deputy director of Endocrinology at the Monash Medical Centre, said that the study confirms and expands previous understandings of risk factors, including socioeconomic status.

“A lot of these chronic disease and lifestyle issues are more challenging in men with reduced access or literacy of health. Erectile function is nature’s blood vessel test, so everything that affects blood vessels adversely also affects erections,” he said.

Health and lifestyle-related preventative measures for erectile dysfunction are the same for overall health, such as increased physical activity, not smoking, moderate drinking, and lowering your body mass index.

Men who experience erectile dysfunction should see their doctor.

Men with severe erectile dysfunction are 60% more likely to be hospitalised for coronary heart disease and twice as likely to die prematurely than men with no erectile problems, a previous study has found.

Even minor erectile problems could be an indicator of future heart risks.

“This is clearly something that’s not done over the internet or a 1800 number. For the hundreds of thousands of men that this is a daily concern, they need help and it should be obtained through their doctor who can tackle these issues, and provide verified medications,” said Professor Smith.

“Men obviously want to do these things anonymously or privately but we need to make sure they feel that that’s not necessary. This is such a common problem, so we have to demystify it,” said Professor McLachlan.