Erectile Dysfuntion is especially common among gay men

July 1, 2024

Bobby Box

And it's time we acknowledge that

Given how common it is, erectile dysfunction (ED) remains something we’re fairly secretive about. The reality is that over half of men experience some form of ED and, despite the generic assumption that these issues present themselves later in life, it isn’t just affecting older folks. As those delusionally cheerful students in High School Musical declared: We’re all in this together!

While instances of ED do tend to increase with age, 25 percent of men under 40 experience some form of ED, and instances of psychological ED (think: performance anxiety) affect about 90 percent of teenagers and young men

This would mean the majority of us can relate and empathize with ED, and yet we generally choose to use these undesirable circumstances as a punchline to make people feel inferior or flawed. So let’s try our best to change that, shall we? 

Perhaps by normalizing this behaviour, we can help ease instances of ED and work toward normalizing the outcome and alleviating the symptoms.


Generally speaking, symptoms of ED are:

  • Difficulty getting an erection
  • Difficulty maintaining an erection
  • Reduced libido 

Other symptoms can include: 

  • Premature ejaculation 
  • Delayed ejaculation
  • An inability to orgasm 

Now, any one of us could experience these issues from time to time. In fact, The Cleveland Clinic says it is “normal” for ED to occur 20 percent of the time we’re intimate. However, if these symptoms persist over the course of three months, you may want to consider speaking with a medical practitioner. 

The good news is ED is pretty easy to treat in most cases, and while it isn’t the simplest

conversation to breach, your doctor has definitely heard it all before and won’t be phased. If talking about such an intimate condition in person just isn’t your thing, there are also virtual healthcare platforms that allow you to access ED treatment online and have it delivered to your door.


If it’s deemed suitable, your doctor will likely prescribe a PDE5 inhibitor (like Viagra), which, in layman’s terms, enhances the effects of a chemical that the body makes to relax muscles in the penis, which boosts blood flow and helps folks get nice and hard so they can get back to penetrating holes.

The medication should be taken an hour before sex as the meds will take longer to absorb with high fat meals or alcohol in your System.

If you experience headaches, an upset stomach, changes in visibility, dizziness, or similar side effects, speak with your doctor and explore potential alternatives. Side effects are relatively rare and only impact roughly 1 in 100 patients.

While PDE5 inhibitors are the most common treatment for erectile dysfunction, there are a range of alternatives that you can explore with your health care practitioner if necessary, you can see those here.


Interestingly, a study from 2005 found that ED is more common in gay men, whereas rapid ejaculation was more common among heterosexual men. 

A 2019 study in Poland further confirmed this concerning statistic adding that experiences of discrimination and victimization ( “minority stress”) may be a key contributor. Researchers went as far to conclude that “Internalized homophobia predicts poorer sexual quality of life in gay and bisexual men.”

After speaking with folks who experience ED, it became clear that internalized homophobia wasn’t the only issue. Both judgement within our community and unrealistic expectations from porn (which gay men consume significantly more of), appear to be prevalent factors as well. 

Trevor, 37, says he’s often judged when he experiences ED, and says these disproportionately occur with one-night stands. “It makes me feel less than; as if I was being held to the standards of a porn star,” he shares. “It had gotten to the point where I’ve stopped hooking up right away and take the time to understand the person more, which helps with nerves and my confidence.”

Eager  to please, Trevor says he experiences ED more often when he is intimate with someone for the first time. “If I’m anxious I start to run through a bunch of questions like: “Is my dick big enough?”, “Am I good at this?”, “Are they enjoying themselves?”, “Am I too rough? The questions keep pouring in and then my erection is gone.”

Ted, 32, agrees, adding that expectations from bottoms only exacerbate the issue. “I definitely feel insecure and doubtful when someone who is 100% bottom hits me up. Hearing the lads say, ‘I can’t wait for you to fuck me’ or ‘I want you to fuck me so bad’ gives me instant performance anxiety.”

Alex, 42, said performance anxiety was an issue in his 20s, but  in his 30s, had testosterone  so low it became a medical issue. He spoke with a doctor and was prescribed Cialis as well as testosterone and clomiphene. “After treating my ED, I’ve had more sex than in my 20s and 30s combined,” he says proudly.

Despite struggling with ED, Alex is refreshingly positive about his experiences, as they helped guide him outside of traditional sex and toward intimate alternatives. “It brought me to sex toy shops, where I got into different kinks and forms of rope play,” he says.  “It’s actually what made me a fisting and watersports top.”

For most of us, ED is something that is going to happen whether we want it to or not. The good news is most cases are easily treatable, and there are healthcare platforms like our pals at  Felix that allow you to find treatment online without the awkwardness or stress. 

We just need to be kinder to each other when these issues present themselves. We’re human, after all, and we can’t expect our penises to perform with perfection every time we use them. What we can do, however, is be compassionate when it does happen. Because when it comes to sex, a little empathy goes a long way.

Graphic Designed by Dylan Horner

Photo used in the image by Christopher Sherman

This article was made possible thanks to our friends at Felix, you can check out more information about ED and how to stay hard via the Felix site.