Erectile dysfunction: age 40

Written with
Amanda Barge

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when you have difficulty getting or keeping an erection. It can happen when you’re masturbating (solo sex) or when you’re having sex with someone else (partnered sex). Erectile dysfunction is also known as impotence.

Due to a mixture of physical, psychological, and lifestyle reasons, you might not be sporting the erections you had in your 20s.

But, being in your 40s doesn’t mean that you have to wave goodbye to a fulfilling sex life. We’re here to help you get your erections back on track.

In this post, we’ll be looking at:

How common is erectile dysfunction in your 40s?

Is erectile dysfunction normal at 40? The answer is: yes, absolutely.

Erectile dysfunction in your 40s is very common, with studies showing that almost half (40%) of men experience ED at age 40

Signs of erectile dysfunction in your 40s

For most men, erections can’t be summoned on demand. So, if you sometimes have trouble getting hard, you have nothing to worry about.

But if you notice these symptoms more frequently, you could be experiencing erectile dysfunction:

  • Not being able to get hard at all
  • Not getting as hard as you’d like
  • Not staying hard, or losing your erection before you finish 

Read more about the signs and symptoms of ED here.

Sudden erectile dysfunction at 40 years old

ED can be triggered suddenly – you may see a change overnight or following a one-off bad experience in the bedroom. However, ED can also begin to appear more gradually over time.

Read on to find out more about what can cause ED.

Causes of erectile dysfunction in 40-year-olds

Let’s take a look at some possible reasons behind erectile dysfunction in 40-year-old males.

Psychological causes of ED in your 40s

There’s a whole range of possible psychological causes for ED, but we’re going to focus on 3 of the most likely culprits for guys in their 40s:

1. Stress

Life can get intense in your 40s, and you might find yourself facing a lot of stress. 

To put it simply, stress can be a boner-killer. This is because if a stress response is sparked, your body may enter ‘fight or flight’ mode and direct blood away from your penis, which then makes it harder for you to get or keep an erection.

“ED can strike at anytime of life, so obviously we can think of many situations that might add to stress in your 40s. For some 40-something men, the stresses associated with this time will not make a difference, but for some, they may well affect their ED and sexual relationships.”

Amanda Barge, Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist

Some of the stresses you may be facing in your 40s are:

  • Career stresses, such as working towards a promotion or facing a redundancy 
  • Financial worries, such as paying for your rent or mortgage, or taking out loans
  • Family worries, such as taking care of aging parents
  • Providing for and raising a family
  • Health changes or illnesses (for you, your partner, or other family members or friends)
  • Watching your body and appearance go through physical changes, such as going gray
  • Losing touch with friends
  • Moving house or relocating 
  • Long-term relationship problems, including arguments, divorce, break-ups, or cheating 
  • Having sexual stress and performance anxiety with a new partner, after a divorce or breakup following a long-term relationship
  • Trying for a baby, IVF, or adoption

Let us know what else is stressing you out, if you’re in your 40s and have ED (it’s anonymous).

"Erections are better when I am alone, especially if under no pressure, so I know there is a strong psychological component. And lots of usual stress in work and relationships."

Anonymous 40 year old Mojo user

2. Mid-life crisis

You might be familiar with the concept of the mid-life crisis. The stereotype here is a man in his mid-40s buying a shiny red Porsche and dating a woman half his age.

A true mid-life crisis involves changing your entire life in a hurry, and it usually affects men in their 40s and early 50s. It can be triggered by: 

  • Feeling dissatisfied with elements in your life such as your career, relationship, or your health
  • Feeling like the time to achieve your goals is running short

These feelings might spark feelings of anxiety or stress, which can then lead to erection issues.

3. Feeling down

Studies have suggested that there is a mid-life slump in the life cycle of human happiness and wellbeing.

Depression is directly linked to ED, so if you’re feeling a little low in your 40s and you’re experiencing erection issues, the two could be linked. 

Lifestyle factors that can cause ED in your 40s

Some of the lifestyle causes of erectile dysfunction in your 40s are:

  • Smoking 
  • Drinking to excess or taking drugs, like cocaine
  • Being sleep-deprived
  • Feeling generally exhausted
  • Not finding enough time to sleep, exercise, eat healthy food, or have fun 

Physical causes of ED in your 40s

There are many physical reasons for erectile dysfunction at 40, which may include:

  • Lowered testosterone levels, as testosterone drops between 1-2% every year beginning in the 40s
  • Side effects of prescription medicine, such as anti-depressants or blood pressure medication
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes, or heart conditions such as high blood pressure
  • Injury from treatments for prostate cancer, including radiation therapy or prostate surgery
  • Injuries to the penis, spinal cord, prostate, bladder, or pelvis

Read about the other possible causes of ED here. 

How to fix erectile dysfunction at 40

Tackling psychological ED

If your ED is being caused by the stress of your 40s, a period of depression, or low self-esteem, it is psychological and can be treated by focusing on your psychological wellbeing.

“It is so important for men to take some time to observe themselves and have a look at what their life is looking like, and what might they do to help their sexual wellbeing.”

Amanda Barge, Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist

You can do this by:

  • Taking part in sex therapy podcasts and sessions. Get expert advice from a team of psychotherapists and sex specialists, which will help you understand how your emotions are affecting your boners.

  • Learning how to train your erections. These tutorials and practical exercises such as breathing techniques, meditation tactics, and masturbation methods can help you overcome your erection problems.

  • Having a support network. Our Mojo community can offer you support and answer your questions about all things ED-related. Here, you can connect with other men in their 40s going through the same thing and hear what worked for them.

Making erection-led lifestyle changes

These sound pretty obvious, but you can tackle some of the lifestyle causes of ED by:

These are all easier said than done, we know.

Treating the physical causes of ED

Physical causes of ED may be more common in older men than they are in younger men. If you think that your ED is a symptom of an underlying physical reason, we would recommend going to see a doctor to rule out whether your ED is caused by physical reasons.

They can carry out a few tests, provide a proper diagnosis, and give you medical advice on the next steps. These may include: 

Usually, physical ED can lead to psychological erection issues. If this is the case for you, we recommend incorporating Mojo into your treatment program alongside any physical treatment, for better sex in the long-term.

Back to the (morning) glory days

Good sex doesn’t have to stop at 40. Erection problems are treatable. Sign up for a trial today, to start learning more about how to overcome your erectile dysfunction.

And if you’re not ready to take that step yet, check out our community first, to hear from other guys with ED.

Mojo aims to provide useful wellbeing resources to its users; however, you should not solely rely on opinions or advice available on the Website or given by the Community. Always seek advice from a qualified medical doctor or other healthcare professional before acting.

Start your 7-day free trial

Get unlimited access to Mojo and start your journey to better erections.

Try Mojo for free

Press enquires:

Anything else:

Mojo, 15 Westland Pl, London, N1 7LP

Help is available when you're feeling low – you don't have to suffer in silence. If you're in crisis or struggling to cope, find someone to talk to on Find a Helpline.