How common is ED after age 40?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

If you’re a guy over 40, there’s a fifty-fifty chance that you have a problem getting or keeping an erection. Now, I don’t mean the sort of erection you saw in American Pie! I mean an erection that’s firm enough and long-lasting enough for sexual satisfaction. Every guy has times when he just can’t manage an erection. Still, if you’re having trouble achieving a satisfying erection more than 50% of the time, you’ve got erectile dysfunction (ED).

Like going bald, ED becomes more common as men age. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 5% of all 40-year-old men have ED and that number rises with age. Between 15% and 25% of 65-year-old men have ED. This is one of the reasons you see so many ED drug commercials during televised sporting events, Fox News programs, and other shows that typically attract men over 50 (just kidding, Fox).

ED used to be something most men could barely admit to themselves, much less discuss with their partner or doctor. But the arrival of drugs such as Viagra (sildenafil), which help at least 80% of men with ED achieve solid erections, changed that attitude in a hurry. The important thing is that many men now openly talk about their erection troubles with their doctor. ED can be a dipstick for your health -- an early warning sign of serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. By making healthy choices, you can avoid ED and heart disease. More than 25% of 80-year-old men still enjoy great sex regularly, so you are never too old for great sex.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Turning 40 can be fraught with anxiety for all kinds of reasons. Those first gray hairs might be sprouting (if your locks aren't already hanging on for dear life) and suddenly your old belts just don't seem to fit any more. Add to this to your list of middle-age concerns: the rising risk of erectile dysfunction (ED), or difficulty having or keeping an erection.

One large study found that 4% of men who develop erectile dysfunction had their first bouts with this frustrating problem between the ages of 40 and 49. However, after 50, the threat of erectile dysfunction grows sharply. In fact, about one man in three who has passed the age of  50 has problems in the bedroom.

The good news? That same study found that men were significantly less likely to have erectile dysfunction if they worked out regularly, maintained a healthy weight, avoided tobacco, and kept their alcohol intake to a minimum (two drinks a day, if you drink booze at all, should be your limit). So don't accept erectile dysfunction as an inevitable downside of aging. Talk to your doctor if you're having problems getting or sustaining erections.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) becomes more common at midlife. Around age 40, about 40% of men say they have some sexual dysfunction. With aging, ED becomes more common, affecting some 30 million men in the United States. The good news is there are successful treatments for ED, no matter what your age.

Talk to your doctor about the ED drugs and other treatments to find what works best for you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.