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Common Myths About Erectile Dysfunction

Tuesday 2 June 2020
Erectile Dysfunction

Table of Contents


I. Myth: Erectile Dysfunction only affects older men

II. Myth: Erectile Dysfunction is a Normal Part of Aging

III. Myth: Erectile Dysfunction Lowers Sexual Desire

IV. Myth: If One Erectile Dysfunction Medication Doesn’t Work for Me, None of Them Will

V. Myth: Erectile Dysfunction Can Only Be Treated with Medication

VI. Myth: Erectile Dysfunction is Not Dangerous

VII. Myth: Viagra and Cialis Do Not Need a Prescription

VIII. Myth: Wearing Tight Underwear Can Cause Erectile Dysfunction


Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common condition that affects around 30 million men in the United States alone. [1] A lot of men do not like to speak about erectile dysfunction to their partners, friends, and even their doctors. Because of this, it is easy for misinformation and myths to spread. It is essential to seek treatment for ED, which can include medications like ViagraCialis, and Levitra. Read on to learn the facts behind the myths you may have heard about erectile dysfunction.

Myth: Erectile Dysfunction only affects older men

Fact: It is true that erectile dysfunction is more likely to affect men as they get older. Around 40 percent of males aged 40 have erectile dysfunction.  This increases by approximately ten percent every ten years. Roughly 50 percent of men aged 50 have ED, 60 percent of men aged 60, and almost 70 percent of men aged 70. [2] [3]

However, erectile dysfunction can affect men of any age. Approximately one-quarter of men under the age of 40 have erectile dysfunction. [4] Complete erectile dysfunction can also affect younger men, although this is less common. Around five percent of men under the age of 40 have complete ED. Complete ED is the total inability to achieve or maintain an erection. [4]

Age is a risk factor for erectile dysfunction, but it is not the only risk factor. Other common factors that contribute to ED include obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, anxiety, stress, medication side effects, smoking or alcohol, and drug use.  [5]

Three young men sitting on a wall 

Myth: Erectile Dysfunction is a Normal Part of Aging

Fact: Erectile dysfunction is more likely to occur as you get older. However, this is not necessarily due to the aging process itself. ED is typically due to a medical problem, which is why it is more common in older men.  Many men are naturally able to get and keep an erection into their senior years. [6] Erectile dysfunction medications such as Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra can also help men of all ages get and maintain an erection.

Myth: Erectile Dysfunction Lowers Sexual Desire

Fact: Erectile dysfunction does not directly impact sexual desire in males. However, some men who have partial or complete erectile dysfunction may avoid having sexual intercourse. This avoidance can be due to fear or anxiety about not being able to get or maintain an erection. [7] Additionally, reduced sexual desire and erectile dysfunction often have a similar cause. Common causes of both include relationship difficulties, anxiety, medication side effects, high blood pressure, or diabetes. [8]

Myth: If One Erectile Dysfunction Medication Doesn’t Work for Me, None of Them Will

Fact: It is common for males to try many different prescription erectile dysfunction medications. These medications should not be taken together. However, doctors may change ED prescriptions in order to find which medication is most effective, without causing serious side effects. [9] Each erectile dysfunction medication contains distinct ingredients that affect bodies differently. Just because one erectile dysfunction medication was not successful, does not mean that others will not be.

Myth: Erectile Dysfunction Can Only Be Treated with Medication

Fact: There are many oral erectile dysfunction medications for men. Some like Viagra and Levitra are only taken when needed, usually around one hour before sexual activity. Others, like Cialis, can be taken every day with sexual activity attempted at any time. However, there are many ways to treat ED without taking medication.

There are many causes of erectile dysfunction. These include physical and emotional causes as well as other factors such as smoking, obesity, and medication side effects.

Some medications may cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect. This includes antidepressants, prostate medications, and blood pressure medicines. [10] If erectile dysfunction is experienced after starting a new medication, then speak to your doctor.

Obesity is a very common cause of erectile dysfunction. Studies showed that 79 percent of men who were considered overweight or obese had erectile problems. Losing weight, eating healthier, and exercising more can improve erections. [10]

Smoking, drinking alcohol, and substance abuse are some other risk factors for erectile dysfunction. Quitting smoking and drinking in moderation can also lessen ED.

Talk therapy treatment is a common method of treating erectile dysfunction. Anxiety, stress, and depression are common psychological conditions that can impact ED.  Studies show that undergoing treatment with a partner improves ED more than half of the time. [11]

A hand holding a cigar above an ashtray in front of alcohol bottles

Myth: Erectile Dysfunction is Not Dangerous

Fact: Erectile dysfunction in itself is not a danger to your health. However, it can sometimes be an early warning sign of current or future heart problems. This is often because erectile dysfunction and heart disease share many risk factors. Common risk factors include obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. [12] Erectile dysfunction testing often includes heart exams as part of the testing process.

Myth: Viagra and Cialis Do Not Need a Prescription

Fact: Viagra, Cialis, and their generic alternatives, sildenafil, and tadalafil, are all prescription medications. Online pharmacies that do not require a prescription for these medications are illegitimate and unlicensed. Ordering from an unlicensed pharmacy can result in receiving dangerous drugs that have harmful ingredients or no medicinal ingredients. You could also have your personal and banking information stolen. [13]

A hand writing out a prescription with medication nearby

Myth: Wearing Tight Underwear Can Cause Erectile Dysfunction

Fact: Tight underwear can increase the temperature of the testicles and this can result in lowering a man’s sperm count. [14] However, there is no evidence that tight underwear, or any other fashion choice, such as tight jeans, can cause or contribute to erectile dysfunction. [7]

If you are worried about fertility and a lowered sperm count, it only takes around 10 – 11 weeks for sperm to be produced. Wearing looser underwear and pants for this amount of time and beyond can improve sperm count.  [15]

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.