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Teenage Erectile Dysfunction

Teenage Erectile Dysfunction

What is erectile dysfunction?

An erection involves the brain, nerves, hormones, muscles, and circulatory system. These systems work together to fill the erectile tissue in the penis with blood. A man with erectile dysfunction (ED) has trouble getting or maintaining an erection for sexual intercourse. Some men with ED are completely unable to get an erection. Others have trouble maintaining an erection for more than a short time.

There are many possible causes of ED, and many of them are treatable. Read on to learn more about ED’s causes and how it’s treated.

Treatments for ED

Treating the cause of ED may help resolve the problem. Lifestyle changes make a positive difference for some men. Others benefit from medications, counseling, or other treatments. Ignoring ED isn’t wise, particularly because it can be a sign of other health problems.

Healthy lifestyle changes

Healthier eating, getting more exercise, and losing weight may help minimize the problems posed by ED. Quitting cigarettes and cutting back on alcohol use is not only wise but may also help with ED.

Communication with your partner is essential. Performance anxiety can compound other causes of ED. A therapist or other mental health professional may be able to help you. Treating depression, for example, may help resolve ED and bring about additional benefits as well.


Oral phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors can help treat ED. These medications are recommended before more invasive treatments are considered. PDE5 is an enzyme that can interfere with the action of nitric oxide (NO). NO helps open the blood vessels in the penis to increase blood flow and produce an erection.

Three of the most widely used ED medications are:

  • sildenafil (Viagra)
  • tadalafil (Cialis)
  • vardenafil (Levitra)

All of these drugs require a prescription.

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction in Teenagers

psychological cause.   Psychological causes can include performance anxiety (that is, being nervous or fearing rejection from a partner), guilt (possibly from being taught at home that sex is “dirty”), and depression. Often when a teenager has one bad sexual experience, his fear and anxiety is heightened even further during future attempts.

But not all erectile dysfunction in teenagers is caused by psychological reasons. Recent research has shown that erectile dysfunction in teenage boys can often stem from a physical cause. In a study published in 2009 in BJU International, Dr. John P. Mulhall from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City studied 40 males aged 14-19 who sought help at a specialized ED treatment center. Surprisingly, 74% of the young men had a physical problem, and 60% were found to have significant blood vessel problems. The remainder of the young men were considered to have psychological causes.

The mean delay between onset of symptoms and evaluation at the treatment center was 22.6 months, so obviously these young men had experienced more than just an isolated incident. Many came to the treatment center with one or both parents. As a result of the study, Dr. Mulhall strongly encourages vascular testing in young men, since it is impossible to make a diagnosis by asking questions alone.

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