Erectile dysfunction (ED or impotence) is most common among men over the age of 55, but it can also happen to younger men. For men of any age, it can be an early warning sign for serious diseases, so it's essential for your overall health, not just your sex life, to see a doctor if you experience ED.
If you're 55 or older
"With aging, a number of changes occur within the body and you're more likely to have conditions that can contribute to erectile dysfunction, like high cholesterol and blood pressure, hormonal changes, and hardening of the arteries," says Ridwan Shabsigh, MD, director the division of urology at Maimonides Medical Center and professor of clinical urology at Columbia University in New York City. "Also, people usually take more medications later in life and some have sexual side effects that result in ED."
If you're under 55
"We are starting to understand that these men might have psychological issues and early cardiovascular disease," says Dr. Shabsigh. Diabetes is another possibility. The condition can cause nerve damage and a narrowing of the arteries in the penis. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases estimates that 35-50% of men with diabetes experience ED.