Couple lying together.

Young Men: Do These 7 Things to Minimize Erectile Dysfunction Risk

The prevalence of erectile dysfunction among younger men seems to be increasing, but steps can be taken to lower your risk. Healthy lifestyle modifications can make it less likely that you’ll fall victim to early-onset ED.


Erectile dysfunction is a sexual disorder that in the past was typically associated with older men, although it can occur at almost any age. However, the past decade has brought to light increasing signs that ED is on the rise among younger men — those under the age of 40.

According to an article posted at, a 2012 study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that roughly 30 percent of men under 40 experienced ED. Another study by the center, released the following year, examined 439 men with ED and found that 26 percent of them were under the age of 40.

ED can be caused by a number of factors, although the three most common are insufficient blood flow to the penis, psychological issues, and traumatic or congenital injury to the male sexual organs.

Of these three, the most widely seen by far is vascular insufficiency, which can arise as a consequence of certain chronic medical conditions, including atherosclerosis, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

This close association between heart health and erectile function has given rise to the oft-repeated observation that what’s good for the heart is good for the penis, and vice versa.

The seeming recent upsurge in ED among younger men, whether real or simply a candid revelation of what’s been the case for many years, is alarming, particularly because meaningful measures can be taken to prevent ED.

This blog post focuses on what younger men can do to lower their risk of developing ED. Male impotence that arises because of physiological causes can be effectively addressed and often prevented or minimized by behavioral changes that lower risk.

1. Quit Smoking

If you’re a smoker, do whatever is necessary to kick the habit, and do it now. Your addiction to the nicotine in tobacco can be both physiological and psychological. If you find that you can’t stop smoking without help, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for suggestions that can help you quit the habit for good.

For some, quitting as a member of a group seems to be more effective than trying to do it on your own. Also helpful can be smoking cessation aids such as nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges. Just take care that you don’t trade your addiction to smoking for a dependence on a nicotine substitute (as this writer once did).

As to the negative effects of smoking on sexual function, they are many. However, the damage smoking does to vascular function is perhaps the most direct cause of ED. Nicotine damages the endothelium, the thin layer of smooth muscle cells that line arteries. These endothelial tissues play a key role in the erection process. When they relax, arteries expand to allow the volume of blood flow necessary to create and sustain an erection. When they are damaged, it can become increasingly difficult to get and keep an erection.

Fruits and nuts arranged on a table top.

diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats can go a long way toward preventing the development of erectile dysfunction.

2. Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet

A fast-food diet or one that’s high in unhealthy fats — yes, there are healthy fats — can put you on a fast track to problems that can adversely affect both cardiac and erectile function.

Eating a diet that’s heart-healthy today is easier than ever. Restaurant menus often carry nutritional information so you can make an informed decision about the healthiness of selections. And nutritional labels carry very detailed information about the nutrients in processed foods on sale in the supermarket.

While many diets are supportive of heart health, the Mediterranean diet remains perhaps one of the most widely recommended and copied. It is high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein-rich beans, lentils, and seeds. Other protein comes from an occasional fish meal, but red meat intake is low.

At the heart of the Mediterranean diet is the copious use of olive oil, which is an unsaturated fat that is rich in antioxidants. It is an example of a healthy fat that can lead to improved cardiac and erectile function.

3. Exercise Regularly

A regular regimen of physical activity is yet another important way to lower one’s risk of ED and improve heart health. However, if your level of physical activity up until now has been below par, ask your doctor for advice about how to slowly develop a healthy exercise routine.

Exercise gets the heart beating strongly and the blood flowing, both of which can improve cardiac function, which in turn bodes well for your love life as well. But take it slowly at first and gradually build up your routine over time. There’s no need to rush out and sign up for an upcoming marathon, at least not yet.

4. Shed Those Excess Pounds

If you’re overweight or obese, that surplus poundage puts an extra strain on your heart and vascular function. And men who are significantly overweight have a far higher incidence of ED and other sexual dysfunction than men of normal weight.

While losing weight is important, it’s equally important you do it sensibly. Don’t fall for phony diet pills and the latest fad diet that could be harmful to your overall health. Here again, consult with your doctor for support on your weight-loss effort.

Glass of red wine.

Alcohol in moderation can set the mood for romance, but too much to drink will almost always spoil the party. 

5. Limit Your Alcohol Intake

A glass or two of wine or beer or an occasional cocktail probably will have no significant adverse effect on erectile function. In fact, a bit of alcohol has been known to loosen one up and make it easier to enjoy romance. In small quantities, it also may have some benefits for heart health.

However, if your encounters with alcohol often go far beyond moderation and into excess, it might be wise for you to avoid alcohol altogether. Too much almost always interferes with healthy erectile function.

6. Manage Underlying Health Issues

Certain medical conditions significantly increase a man’s risk for developing ED. This is true of diabetes, elevated cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and even obstructive sleep apnea. Fortunately, most of these conditions can be controlled with medication and/or behavioral modification. Work with your doctor to keep such medical conditions from interfering with your sex life.

7. Use ED Drugs If Needed

If you are already experiencing early signs of ED, it’s possible that taking some of the foregoing steps will get you back on track. In the meantime, there’s no shame in using a bit of a medicinal crutch to help support your erectile function.

Many men have found that they can save both time and money by ordering their Viagra or other ED drug from, a longtime online prescription drug service. This is particularly true when one considers the total cost of ownership when shopping for ED medications. This takes into account not just the price of the drug but also all the related expenditures of time and money necessary to obtain the drug.

Prices at eDrugstore cover not just the drug you’re ordering but a host of value-added services as well. Shipping is free, and by ordering online you’ll save yourself the hassle of trips to and from the local pharmacy.

If you don’t yet have a prescription, you can save yourself a trip to the doctor’s office by taking advantage of eDrugstore’s complimentary online consultation service. This will put you in touch online with a physician licensed to practice in your state. If the doctor finds that you’re an appropriate candidate for the drug, a prescription will be authorized. To learn more, visit eDrugstore’s Erectile Dysfunction page.

Don Amerman has spent more than three decades in the business of writing and editing. During the last 15 years, his focus has been on freelance writing. For almost all of his writing, He has done all of his own research, both online and off, including telephone and face-to-face interviews where possible. Don Amerman on Google+