Introduction: Much research has explored the experience of erectile dysfunction (ED) among men with ED, but far less attention has been paid to the perceptions and sexual experiences of the female partners of men with ED.
Aim: The objective of this study was to characterize the attitudes, beliefs, and sexual experience of female partners of men with erectile difficulties.
Methods: Female partners of men with ED who had participated in the Men's Attitudes to Life Events and Sexuality (MALES) study were recruited for this research via mail or Internet, after their male partners consented to this contact. Female partners of men with ED (N = 293) responded to questionnaire measures assessing their frequency of sexual activity and the nature of their sexual experience, both before and after the development of their partner's ED, and in relation to their partner's use of phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors.
Results: Women reported engaging in sexual activity significantly less frequently after their partner developed ED in comparison with before (P < 0.001). Moreover, significantly fewer women experienced sexual desire, arousal, or orgasm "almost always" or "most times," and significantly fewer women reported satisfaction with their sexual relationship after their partner developed ED, compared with before (P < 0.001). Decreases in female sexual satisfaction and frequency of orgasm were significantly related to the male partner's self-reported severity of ED (P < 0.01). The proportion of women who experienced sexual desire, arousal, and orgasm "almost always" or "most times" was significantly higher in the group whose partners were currently using a PDE5 inhibitor (P < 0.05).
Conclusion: Erectile dysfunction has significant adverse effects on the female partner's sexual experience. Women with partners who were currently using PDE5 inhibitors had a more satisfying sexual experience than those whose partners did not use a PDE5 inhibitor.