Men and women who choose to join the military and serve their country are aware that there will be many sacrifices involved. They know that they will spend time away from their families. They understand that there is the likelihood of being deployed and the possibility of seeing combat. Service members are usually aware that there is a chance of getting wounded, injured or killed. What many service members don’t realize is there are significant risks to their health outside of the ones that are normally though of.
A recent study found that men who enlist in the military are three times more likely to develop erectile dysfunction (ED) than civilians of the same age group. While the topic of ED is rarely talked about, it needs to be discussed.
On July 17, 2014, the study, “Sexual Functioning in Military Personnel: Preliminary Estimates and Predictors”was published online by the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Researchers polled 367 male service members, aged 21-40.
Between October and November, 2013, participants completed an online survey about ED. The study examined the frequency of sexual function problems in male service members so that they could evaluate the effects of ED, including the quality of life for those who have it.
The study found that ED was quite common, showing up in more than 30% of the service members polled. Service members aged 36-40 had the highest rates, more than double the rate of ED for civilians over the age of 40.
The high rate of ED among service members could be related to the increased number of deployments over the past twelve years, as well as the number of traumatic events that service members can be subjected to. Generally, sexual functioning issues are associated with getting older, but serious injuries and traumatic events can increase the likelihood of developing ED.
The most troubling part of the study was that most service members were not seeking treatment. Only one out of twelve service members who admitted having various degrees of ED in the survey admitted to seeking medical treatment. Most of the participants cited concerns about what others would think as reasons for not getting checked out.
While some may consider it emasculating to seek help for problems with sexual function and performance, the study found a direct correlation between ED and one’s overall quality of life and happiness. It is highly recommended that any service member suffering from ED seek medical assistance so that they can restore balance to their life.
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Military Connections: Unmentioned Risks of Service: By Debbie Gregory