Impotence Among College Students Attributed to Drinking, Stress

College clinics are hearing more reports of young men with impotence problems, and alcohol and other drug use plus a dose of performance anxiety are seen as culprits, the Washington Post reported recently.

Problem drinking and drug use on campus are nothing new, but the new variable may be the forward attitude of many young women, who are increasingly likely to initiate sex. “I know lots of girls for whom nothing is off limits,” said college junior Helen Czapary of the University of Maryland. “The pressure on the guys is a huge deal.”

Anecdotally, health counselors at schools like Duke, Tulane, the University of New Hampshire, and MIT Medical Center said that reports of impotence have increased in recent years. Urologist Jon Pryor of the University of Minnesota said that 30 percent of his patients with erectile dysfunction are under age 30.

Causes can include diabetes or cardiovascular disease, but lifestyle is the root of impotence among many young men. More college students are taking antidepressants, which can reduce sexual function. Alcohol, smoking, and lack of exercise all can contribute to the problem.

“We get reports of increased stress levels starting at younger ages,” said Thomas Jarrett, chief urologist at the George Washington University Medical Center. “These are kids living on the extreme, drinking caffeinated Red Bull and beer and working very hard.”

Sometimes, a failure in bed can lead to reflection on other parts of a young man’s life. GW sophomore Peter Schneider was “torn up inside” after a string of disappointments with his girlfriend during his freshman year. Then he began looking at his lifestyle, which included use of marijuana, cigarettes, alcohol and Adderall, with little or no exercise. With the counsel of a close friend and an understanding girlfriend, Schneider got his libido back.