DOI: 10.1093/jsxmed/qdae001.152 ISSN: 1743-6095

(161) Usage Patterns of Erectile Dysfunction Medications in Young Adult Men

J Aguiar, D Greenberg, R Brannigan, J Halpern, J Dubin
  • Urology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Psychiatry and Mental health



There has been a significant increase in the accessibility of pharmacologic erectile dysfunction (ED) treatments through direct-to-consumer platforms. However, the impact of this broad accessibility on usage in young adult men has not been studied.


We sought to assess demographic, socioeconomic, and health factors associated with erectile dysfunction medication use among men aged 18-40 years.


We created a survey assessing prior phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor (PDE-5) use, means of acquisition, and receipt of counseling prior to use. The survey was disseminated with the modified International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF-5) questionnaire to a convenience sample of men ages 18-40 via Research Match, an NIH-funded database of research participants. Demographic data including age, race, ethnicity, education level, insurance status, sexual orientation, and relationship status were collected. Descriptive statistics were performed using t-test, chi-squared test, and univariable and multivariable logistic regression with significance defined as p<0.05.


Among 210 respondents, 82 (39.0%) indicated prior use of ED medication. Men identifying as Black or African American (OR = 3.54, 95% CI: 1.82-6.88, p<0.001) and Hispanic or Latino (3.32, 95% CI: 1.45-7.62, p=0.01) were more likely to have reported prior use. Higher rates of utilization were similarly observed among men insured by Medicare or Medicaid (OR = 6.07, 95% CI: 3.10-11.87, p<0.001). Income >$200,000 per year was associated with decreased utilization (OR 0.23, 95% CI: 0.06-0.92, p=0.04). Mild, mild to moderate, and severe erectile dysfunction per the modified IIEF scale were associated with increased utilization (OR = 3.09, 13.70, 20.25 and p-values = 0.01, <0.001, <0.001, respectively). There were no statistically significant differences among usage patterns with respect to age, education level, relationship status, or sexual orientation. Medicare or Medicaid coverage (p<0.001) and IIEF symptom severity were significant independent predictors on multivariable regression. Performance anxiety with a partner (56.6%), difficulty maintaining erections (46.9%), and providing confidence during intercourse (39.5%) were the most frequently cited reasons behind use. Primary care providers were the most frequent source of initial procurement (30.9%), followed by friends, family members, or partners (25.9%) and direct-to-consumer online platforms (18.5%). The most important factors considered in procuring medications were privacy (61.7%) and cost (54.3%). Despite 72.8% of men reporting counseling on proper use and risks, only 28.0% were able to correctly identify four key features surrounding proper use (including medication timing, dosage interval, prolonged erections, and sexual stimulation requirement).


We found high use of ED medication among young adult men, particularly among those identifying as Black or African American and Hispanic or Latino, as well as those insured by Medicare or Medicaid. The emphasis on privacy over cost and convenience in obtaining medications likely demonstrates continued stigma surrounding men’s health and sexual health issues. Despite most men reporting counseling on proper use, a stark knowledge gap exists as only a minority of men can correctly identify proper use. This underscores the need for healthcare professionals to provide thorough patient education and guidance to ensure safe and effective use of these medications in young men.



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