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Aug 6, 2014

Erectile Dysfunction in Military Males is Triple the Norm

Men age 40 and younger who are enlisted in the U.S. military are three times more likely to have erectile dysfunction (ED) than civilian men of similar age, but few military men report receiving treatment, according to a new study.

The study, one of the first assessments of sexual-functioning problems among male military personnel, included 367 enlisted men, ages 21 to 40. Participants completed an online sexual-functioning survey during an eight-week period in October and November in 2013.

The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of sexual function problems in male military personnel, examine its effects on their quality of life and evaluate barriers for seeking treatment, said Sherrie L. Wilcox, research assistant professor at the University of Southern California's School of Social Work in Los Angeles, and one of the authors of the study.
"The overall rate of erectile dysfunction in our sample is three times higher than the rate of ED in civilian males of similar age, and 10 percent more than civilian men over the age of 40," Wilcox told Live Science. "The most alarming data, however, is the rate of ED in the 36- to 40-year age group, which is nearly twice the rate of civilian men over 40."
According to Wilcox, the high rates of sexual problems among men in the military could be due to exposure to traumatic events during deployment, mental and physical health issues, and relationship problems with their spouses or significant others. "Sexual-functioning problems are typically associated with increasing age, but those exposed to traumatic events and physical injuries are at risk for developing them, regardless of age," she said.

Wilcox hopes to do a longitudinal study in the future, with a larger sample size and perhaps one that focuses on women as well. "This study is important in that it raises awareness for this problem and puts it on the radar of professionals who work with military personnel and their families," she said.