Erectile dysfunction in young men

Erection problems, sometimes called erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence, are usually more common in men over 40[1,2]. But younger men under 40 can have erection problems too. It can happen to many men from time to time, and is usually nothing to worry about.

ED can be caused by many different things, including being tired, depressed, overweight, some cancer treatments, and drinking too much alcohol[1]. Read more about what can cause ED.

Talk to your GP if you have problems getting or keeping an erection. There is treatment and support available that can help. Read more about taking Viagra Connect or sildenafil to treat ED and other treatment options.

Dealing with ED

Younger men with erection problems may have a lot of the same thoughts and feelings about ED that older men have. It’s normal to feel worried, sad, or even angry about having ED. But younger men might have some additional concerns about how ED and medication for ED will affect them in the future, for example having children (fertility).

Can I have children naturally if I have ED or take medication for ED?

There is no strong evidence to suggest that having ED affects fertility, or that taking medication for ED affects fertility either[3]. Therefore, if you have ED or take medicine to treat ED, your fertility won’t be affected. This means that you should still be able to have children naturally.

Talk to your GP if you’re concerned about your fertility. They may be able to refer you to a fertility specialist. They are health professionals who specialise in helping people to have children. The NHS website also has some information about fertility services on their website.

ED and your relationships

If you have a partner, you may be worried about how ED will affect your relationship. Your partner might be dealing with their own feelings and emotions too. It can help to talk about things together.

If you’re single, or thinking about dating, you might worry about how ED will affect new relationships and how you’ll explain ED to someone you don’t know very well. It’s normal to feel this way, but remember that there is support and help available.

If you have treatment for ED, such as medication, remember that this won’t protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STI). It’s important to use a condom, especially with someone you don’t know very well.


December 2020

Next review

December 2021

Reviewed by

Gill Stone MRPharmS


Our pharmacists speak to people every day about their health concerns. We're here to help you feel supported.

Gill Stone - MRPharmS

Where can I get further support and information?

As well as talking to your GP for information and support, there are also a number of organisations and charities offering support and information.

Our products

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Viagra Connect
Viagra Connect

Viagra Connect is well known as a treatment for ED. It contains the active ingredient sildenafil citrate.

Prices from £19.99
Active ingredient: sildenafil citrate
Take one tablet one hour before sex
Delivered in discreet packaging
Best value

Sildenafil contains the same active ingredient (sildenafil citrate) as Viagra Connect and works in the same way. This is a non-branded treatment for ED.

Prices from £14.99
Active ingredient: sildenafil citrate
Take one tablet one hour before sex
Delivered in discreet packaging

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Further reading on erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction: How to help your partner

Find information and support on how to help your partner if they problems with erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction in gay and bisexual men

For bisexual or gay men with erectile dysfunction issues, you can find more information and support here.

Cancer treatment & erectile dysfunction

We provide information and support for people undergoing cancer treatment and its relation to erectile dysfunction. Find out more here.


  1. 1.

    Erectile dysfunction (impotence) | | Published November 13, 2017 | Accessed September 4, 2020.
  2. 2.

    Mulhall JP, Luo X, Zou KH, Stecher V, Galaznik A | Relationship between age and erectile dysfunction diagnosis or treatment using real-world observational data in the United States | Int J Clin Pract. 2016;70(12):1012-1018 | doi:10.1111/ijcp.12908

  3. 3.

    Purvis K, Muirhead GJ, Harness JA | The effects of sildenafil on human sperm function in healthy volunteers. Br J Clin Pharmacol | 2002;53(Suppl 1):53S-60S | doi:10.1046/j.0306-5251.2001.00033.x