Male sexuality and regulation of emotions: a study on the association between alexithymia and erectile dysfunction (ED)

Int J Impot Res. Mar-Apr 2006;18(2):170-4. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijir.3901386.


Alexithymia is a multidimensional construct that describes a constellation of personality features characterised by difficulties in differentiating, identifying and communicating emotions. The purpose of the present study was to investigate prevalence of alexithymia in outpatients with erectile dysfunction (ED), both in the psychogenic lifelong type (PLED) and in the acquired one (PAED). ED severity was evaluated with the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) and alexithymia was measured using the Italian version of the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). The results suggest a high incidence of alexithymic characteristics in patients with psychogenic ED, a positive correlation between the alexithymia level and ED severity in patients with PAED and statistically significant differences in the alexithymia level between the two subgroups PLED and PAED. We assumed that alexithymia contributes to the origin of the PLED, and to a more severe manifestation of ED, once it appears in the acquired form.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / complications
  • Affective Symptoms / epidemiology*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / epidemiology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sexuality / psychology*