A recent Military Medicine study found that U.S. veterans are at higher risk for several physical and mental health issues, including erectile dysfunction.
According to researchers, 14% of veterans reported symptoms of erectile dysfunction. The national average is 10%, according to the Boston University School of Medicine Center for Sexual Medicine.
The study, which surveyed 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 those who have erectile dysfunction: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, arthritis, and sleep disorder. As for mental health conditions, depression, probable PTSD, and generalized anxiety disorder were most common among sufferers of erectile dysfunction.
“The findings also align with research suggesting that both acute and chronic psychological stress may impact erectile function,” the study reads. “Similar to previous research, U.S. veterans with ED were significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with a number of comorbid medical conditions and severe mental disorders.”
Similarly, a 2015 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that male veterans with PTSD were significantly more likely than their civilian counterparts to report erectile dysfunction or other sexual problems.
It is unlikely for the Department of Veterans Affairs to offer disability ratings for erectile dysfunction, unless it’s service connected and the issue is related to the genitourinary system — typically medical conditions listed under VA Title 38.
“However, service connection for erectile dysfunction, even at 0 percent, makes veterans eligible for Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) for loss of use of a creative organ,” according legal experts. “This is known as SMC (k) and it is paid out in your monthly VA compensation check.”
Researchers from the most recent survey say additional studies are needed to determine the “directionality” of erectile dysfunction.
“Our findings support previous research indicating high rates of comorbidity between ED and physical and mental health conditions,” the study says. “In addition to this, the current study specifically addresses these concerns in U.S. veterans, a population shown to have elevated risk of physical and mental health conditions.”
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digital Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.