About 40% of Chinese Men Over 40 Have ED, Study Finds

An estimated four in ten Chinese men over age 40 have erectile dysfunction (ED), researchers say.

The study, which pertained specifically to men living in 30 provinces and autonomies on the mainland China, was the first nationwide population-based study for this area and age group. (The study did not include men living in Xinjiang autonomies, Qinghai Province, Tibet, and Hong Kong).

Previous studies focusing on northern China and Hong Kong reported ED rates over 75%.

For this study, 5,210 men completed the 5-item International Index of Erectile Function. Researchers also interviewed the men in person. About 82% of the men said they had sex regularly. The rest had no sex.

It should be noted that while the sample was large and carefully screened, and while great care was taken in the subsequent statistical analysis, the study subjects did not constitute a random sample.

Overall, 40.56% of the men had some degree of ED, and prevalence increased as men got older. When the men were grouped by age, the following rates were found:

Age Group Number of Men ED Prevalence Rate
40-49 1,167 18.08%
50-59 1,078 23.56%
60-69 1,348 48.37%
70 and older 1,617 81.60%

The overall rate differed from the earlier regional studies mentioned. The authors noted that the differences could be due to assessment methods, number of participants, and ethnic groups studied.

ED rates tended to be higher for men who smoked heavily, were estranged from their spouses, had diabetes, or had lower urinary tract symptoms related to an enlarged prostate.

The men also reported other sexual dysfunctions. Just over half of the sexually active group said their semen volume had decreased. About 13% said they had a difficult time ejaculating, and 9% did not ejaculate at all.

Of the 941 men who did not have sex, about 17% blamed their partners for their sexless relationships. Almost 37% of the men in this subgroup became divorced or separated, and about 15% became estranged from their spouses. 

It was unknown whether psychological factors contributed to men’s ED and whether ED cases were mild, moderate, or severe.

The authors explained that education could help men in China, along with their healthcare providers, better understand ED and its treatment options:

[A] knowledge gap on sexual dysfunction, sexual activities, aging, and sexual partners' issues exists between urologists, andrologists, and physicians in practice and the general population. An educational program is duly required for physicians and the public in China to promote their understanding of sexual dysfunction and the availability of pharmacotherapy for ED. Education should include awareness that lifestyle modification such as smoking cessation, improvement of couples' relationships, and relief of psychological stress is an important component for the prevention and treatment of ED.

The study was published online in September in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.


The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Zhang, MD, PhD, et al.
“Prevalence and Risk Factors for Erectile Dysfunction in Chinese Adult Males”
(Full-text. Published online: September 2, 2017)