A recent military medicine study found that American veterans are at higher risk for several physical and mental health problems, including erectile dysfunction.
According to the researchers, 14% of veterans reported symptoms of erectile dysfunction. The national average is 10%, according to the Center for Sexual Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.
The study, which interviewed 921 male veterans, found that those with erectile dysfunction were typically aged 60 or older, served in combat roles or during the Vietnam War, spent less than four years in the military and are currently unemployed.
Five comorbid physical conditions were most common among people with erectile dysfunction: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, arthritis, and sleep disturbances. When it comes to mental health issues, depression, probable PTSD, and generalized anxiety disorder were the most common among people with erectile dysfunction.
“The findings also align with research suggesting that acute and chronic psychological stress can impact erectile function,” the study states. “Similar to previous research, US veterans with erectile dysfunction were significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with multiple comorbid medical conditions and serious mental disorders.”
Similarly, a 2015 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that veteran men with PTSD were significantly more likely than their civilian counterparts to report erectile dysfunction or other sexual problems.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is unlikely to offer disability ratings for erectile dysfunction unless it is service related and the problem is related to the genitourinary system – usually medical conditions listed under the title VA 38.
“However, service connection for erectile dysfunction, even at 0%, makes veterans eligible for special monthly compensation (SMC) for loss of use of a creative organ,” according to legal experts. “This is known as SMC(k) and it goes into your monthly VA compensation check.”
Researchers from the most recent survey say more studies are needed to determine the “directionality” of erectile dysfunction.
“Our results support previous research indicating high rates of comorbidity between erectile dysfunction and physical and mental health problems,” the study states. “In addition to this, the current study specifically addresses these concerns among American veterans, a population at high risk for physical and mental health problems.”
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Sarah Sicard is an editor at the Military Times. Previously, she served as Digital Editor of the Military Times and Editor-in-Chief of the Army Times. Other work can be found in National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose and Defense News.