The Independent Pharmacy

ED In The UK - What The Statistics Say

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 5 Mar 2024

Many men face challenges in achieving or maintaining an erection that's strong enough for sexual intercourse, a situation that can be both common and deeply personal. Doctors call these common problems erectile dysfunction or ED. The latest erectile dysfunction statistics show that ED is extremely widespread among guys in the UK, especially those over 40.

For example, recent data found about 50-55% of British men aged 40-70 are navigating through various degrees of ED [1], highlighting how widespread and relatable this condition really is. Research shows the condition becomes more common with age as other health factors contribute to it over time. Major physical causes are often high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, lack of exercise or past surgeries. Moreover, psychological challenges can intensify ED, underscoring the importance of addressing both mental and physical health in managing this condition.

To treat ED symptoms, the popular options doctors often prescribe first are medications like sildenafil (Viagra) or tadalafil (Cialis). Making positive lifestyle changes is also proven to aid blood vessels and heart health. This can reduce ED severity for some if a consistent effort is made over time.

In this article, we’ll review various erectile dysfunction statistics researchers collected across the UK in 2024.

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Key Findings:

  • 50-55% of British men aged 40-70 currently deal with some degree of erectile dysfunction issues [1].
  • There's been a spike in search interest for "erectile dysfunction symptoms" lately [3], while Kent & Medway issue 1,143 ED prescriptions yearly per 10,000 people [2].
  • Popular doctor-recommended options are medications like sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis) [2].
  • Embracing lifestyle changes can reduce ED severity by up to 70% long-term for men [1], also managing health issues like heart disease, obesity or diabetes, which commonly contribute

How Common Is Erectile Dysfunction in the UK?

Erectile dysfunction is extremely common among men of all ages in Britain, according to the latest data. However, it heavily impacts guys once they are over 40 years old.

For example, major UK research by the British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS) this year found that around 50-55% of all British men between 40 and 70 years old now have some degree of ED [1]. That equates to around 1 out of every 2 males in this middle-age range who currently struggle with erectile dysfunction issues.

The prevalence rate continues increasing as men get older within this range. Factors like heart disease, diabetes, various prescription medications, and lack of exercise contribute toward worsening ED over time. Men who are obese or smoke also see poorer erectile health earlier on. In total, over 90% of all diagnosed ED cases have roots in physical health causes rather than psychological conditions [1].

Interestingly, the search interest for "erectile dysfunction symptoms" has also hit an all-time high in 2024 across Britain based on data from Google Trends [3]. This suggests growing public awareness and concern over recognising possible ED indicators in one's own sexual health and function.

What Usually Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

Most cases of ED are caused by treatable physical health factors rather than only mental health. According to the BAUS:

  • Around 90% of men with erectile dysfunction have at least one measurable physical reason contributing to the problem [1].

Some major physical causes behind 9 out of 10 cases are:

  • Heart disease (cardiovascular disease) or history of heart problems (40% of cases) [1].
  • Diabetes, obesity, and related blood flow/circulation disorders (33% of cases) [1].
  • Hormonal imbalances or side effects of certain prescription medications (11% of cases) [1].
  • Past pelvic surgeries, injuries or anatomical abnormalities (3-5% of cases) [1].

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking cigarettes, lack of exercise, alcohol abuse, recreational drug use, and standard ageing processes also negatively impact blood vessels and nerve health, which are vital for strong erections.

In only 10% of ED diagnoses, anxiety, depression, or other psychological factors are the sole reason without any underlying physical drivers present [1]. However, these conditions can still worsen ED systems for many patients with physiological vulnerability as comorbidities.

The most common psychological issue is performance anxiety, where men are too mentally distracted about their sexual ability to focus and maintain full erections.

The good news is that making heart-healthy lifestyle changes often gradually improves ED severity over a consistent time, even if physical root causes cannot be eliminated fully in all cases. Research confirms unhealthy conditions like diabetes or clogged blood vessels from obesity and inactivity usually worsen disorders like ED if not properly managed day-to-day [1].

How Age Affects Erectile Health

The age range between 40-70 years old is where doctors see ED develop the most as other health conditions come up.

However, erectile dysfunction can begin impacting guys at almost any age, depending on risk factors and lifestyle habits over time. Genetics also play some role in who develops issues and how fast for complex reasons.

Though less common at younger ages, some men start battling periodic issues getting and keeping firm erections for intercourse in their 20s or 30s occasionally.

Contributing factors can include being overweight, lack of physical activity, smoking, depression/anxiety, injuries, other chronic illnesses emerging, or side effects of certain medications.

So, while the 40-70-year-old group statistically has the highest rates, young and healthy men can take proactive steps earlier in life through positive lifestyle routines to prevent chronic ED from developing as quickly upon reaching middle age. Maintaining healthy heart function and blood flow while one is youthful pays major protective dividends later on.

Regional Variations in ED Prevalence and Treatment Interest

Beyond national erectile dysfunction statistics, the data we found through OpenPrescribing also highlight fascinating regional variations when comparing different areas of Britain:

For example, the region currently prescribing the highest incidence rates of ED medications is Kent and Medway by a large margin based on local health records [2]. There's an average of 11,435 ED prescriptions given per 1,000 population each month - indicating more men actively seek clinical assistance for sexual symptoms there compared to other areas.

In contrast, an area with one of the lowest documented rates of erectile dysfunction treatment is West Lancashire [2]. There's an average of just 784 ED prescriptions provided per 1,000 people monthly - suggesting relatively few men come forward for medical help with sexual issues in this region.

Potential factors driving these prevalent variations include awareness of ED, social stigma perceptions, underlying chronic disease rates, demographic makeup, availability of reproductive health screenings, and norms around discussing sexual matters openly with doctors or partners.

Many face similar chances of experiencing erectile dysfunction (ED), which is related to heart and blood vessel health. However, there's a big difference in how openly men from different places talk about these issues and look for medical help.

Management of Erectile Dysfunction in the UK

Popular Erectile Dysfunction Medications

The most widely prescribed medical treatments for ED issues are oral medications like sildenafil and tadalafil. According to real UK prescription data tracked over recent years, sildenafil tablets are still the most frequently provided ED drug, averaging 282,483 prescribed doses per 1,000 patients with erectile dysfunction as of 2023 [2].

However, research shows usage of tadalafil ED pills has spiked significantly over the past 12 months. Doctors issued around 84,294 tadalafil prescriptions on average per 1,000 men in December 2023 - a large jump from only 76,518 in January that year. Tadalafil's unique long duration of effectiveness could be a driver behind the momentum. While sildenafil lasts around 4-6 hours per tablet typically, one tadalafil dose enables improved erection ability for up to 36 hours during arousal situations - providing more flexibility and convenience, which British men seem to appreciate increasingly based on the treatment data available.

Alternative Treatments

Beyond popular oral ED medications, doctors may advise other options like external penis pump devices depending on effectiveness or patient preference.

Non-invasive vacuum penis pump products can also help manage ED by enhancing blood flow using applied external air pressure gently around the shaft and tip during sexual activity. According to UK prescription records, an average of 1,481 doses of such assistance devices were issued per 1,000 ED patients in 2023 - suggesting steady niche adoption for pumping support [2]. While less pinpoint than injections internally, pumps have the benefit of no drug side effects in creating temporary erection fullness.

Lifestyle Changes as a Treatment Strategy

Beyond medical interventions alone, enacting positive lifestyle changes is also vital for managing ED long-term if underlying physical health issues are present, like heart disease, obesity, or diabetes. The British Association of Urological Surgeons stresses that embracing healthier behaviours can reduce ED severity by up to 70% in some cases [1].

Specific lifestyle changes doctors recommend include:

  • Losing excess weight through improved nutrition and more exercise
  • Increasing cardio and strength training sessions to support heart health (cardiovascular health)
  • Consuming a diet full of vegetables, lean proteins, anti-inflammatory fats
  • Reducing alcohol consumption, which impairs blood vessel function
  • Quitting cigarette smoking that damages sensitive blood vessels
  • Working to control chronic illnesses through discipline and medications

Consistently applying these modifications enables stronger blood flow and erectile rigidity during arousal situations [1]. So, lifestyle adjustments should be considered the foundation of combatting ED versus relying solely on short-term medications or devices. Sustained daily work is key.

Take the Next Step With The Independent Pharmacy

Experiencing erectile dysfunction can be difficult and leave men feeling frustrated. But the first step is understanding you’re not alone - ED is an extremely common issue that millions of guys in the UK deal with, too. Once informed about the basics, like causes and health intersections, you can make empowered decisions.

Before exploring intensive treatment options, it’s wise to complete The Independent Pharmacy’s detailed online ED consultation first. This asks insightful questions about your specific symptoms, medical history, medications, and more. Our clinical team then analyses your results.

After reviewing your assessment responses, we will send back a customised list of treatment suggestions tailored to your exact profile and needs. If one option does not sufficiently resolve ED issues over time, our caring staff guides adjustments smoothly based on your candid feedback.

When you decide on preferred solutions, The Independent Pharmacy ships approved treatments quickly and discreetly directly to your door in plain, unmarked packages. Our convenient online ED platform offers a private way to secure assistance that fits your changing health requirements under skilled clinical oversight at each step.

If declining erectile quality has impacted intimacy or relationships recently, now is the time to take proactive action - get in touch with The Independent Pharmacy so experts can start mapping out suggestions tailored to your needs. Relief and support are available.


How long can the average man stay erect?

According to research, the average length most men maintain an erection during sexual activity with a partner is 5 to 7 minutes. However, this can be extended through safe techniques or speak with a doctor if duration issues exist before orgasming. Erectile function varies individually.

How long should a man last before ejaculating?

No firm medical expectations exist dictating how many minutes intercourse "should" last before a male experiences orgasm and ejaculation during intimacy. Studies show the average ranges span between 2 to 10 minutes, typically across population groups. Seeking counselling is recommended if heightened sensitivity seems to disrupt enjoyment.

What is the simple trick to cure ED?

While treatments like oral medications, injections, pumps and lifestyle changes can greatly improve ED issues over time, doctors agree there is currently no instant "magic" cure that universally and completely resolves underlying erectile dysfunction in all cases long-term. However, exploring options tailored to the individual shows benefit.

At what age do guys have trouble getting hard?

On average, mild issues achieving sufficient erectile firmness to perform sexually start gradually arising for around 40% of men starting in their early to mid-40s. As cardiovascular issues become more prevalent by age 50-55, moderate ED problems generally emerge for a majority of ageing males if relatively healthy lifestyles are not maintained. Consulting support is wise whenever changes occur.


  1. The British Association of Urological Surgeons (2024). Erectile dysfunction (impotence) -
  2., Bennett Institute for Applied Data Science, University of Oxford (2024) -
  3. Google Trends (2024) -

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