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Often it is imagined that the kind of men who would buy cheap Sildenafil online or seek other erectile dysfunction solutions are middle-aged or older, carrying excess weight or suffering from poor health in some other respect.

However, this stereotype has been shattered by new research showing just how prominent the problem is among younger men, with as many as one in five being a sufferer.

This was highlighted by the Time to Raise It programme, which has partnered with the Lloyds Pharmacy Online Doctor to highlight the issue and get young men to talk about it openly, Joe.co.uk reports.

A study by Opinium of 5,000 men of varying ages found that a quarter of erectile dysfunction sufferers are aged below 34, while just over half are younger than 54. Indeed, as many as 22 per cent of those aged between 25 and 34 have problems, compared with 26 per cent of men aged between 26 and 74. Clearly, this is not just a problem for the old and middle-aged.

The study, which looked at issues of intimacy, noted that 16 per cent of men enjoyed less intimacy with their partners because of erectile issues.

Reasons for this can vary, of course. Younger men can still have significant health problems like diabetes, as well as psychological issues and self-inflicted problems like excess drinking that can also be a trigger for erectile dysfunction.

Indeed, the lack of intimacy caused by erectile problems can lead to a worsening of psychological problems like stress, depression and low self-esteem, creating a vicious circle in which this problem becomes self-perpetuating.

Clinical technology lead at LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor Dr Sameer Sanghvi said: “There are a variety of factors which can cause erectile problems, including stress, tiredness, anxiety, or drinking too much alcohol.”

Stressing the importance of not hiding the issue, he added: “There is a stigma attached to EPs in public discourse, but there need not be. EPs are common. It is time to raise discussion about the issue of raising it.”

For younger patients, it may be reassuring to learn that these issues are more common than might be assumed, and it does not mean that those affected in their 20s and 30s are exceptional cases with something drastically wrong with them nobody else their age is dealing with.

As ever, there is no shortage of advice out there. Seeking counselling for underlying psychological problems may be part of the solution. Another is changes to diet and drinking habits. For example, as well as lowering alcohol intake, recent research from the American Journal of Urology has suggested a plant-based diet will help.

This was based on a study of 47,000 men over a 28-year period and this also found a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

However, while there may be some benefits to a plant-based diet, not everyone will want to go veggie, and the fact that this is monitoring men over a long period of time may suggest the benefits are the result of long-term dietary habits rather than a quick fix.

Of course, a better diet and fitness, in general, will certainly help. But it is not a panacea, which is why men of all ages with erectile dysfunction should be willing to seek whatever help is necessary to tackle their problem.