U.S. veterans are at higher risk for several physical and mental health issues, including erectile dysfunction, according to a recent Military Medicine study.
Researchers found that 14% of veterans reported symptoms of erectile dysfunction. The national average of men reporting erectile dysfunction symptoms is 10%, according to the Boston University School of Medicine Center for Sexual Medicine.
Military Medicine’s study, which surveyed 921 male veterans, found those reporting 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.
Those reporting erectile dysfunction had five comorbid physical conditions: 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 erectile dysfunction sufferers.
“The findings also align with research suggesting that both acute and chronic psychological stress may impact erectile function,” the study states. “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, legal experts note that 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.” This is known as SMC (k) and it is paid out in a 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 states. “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.”