Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a shared sexual concern of couples II: association of female partner characteristics with male partner ED treatment seeking and phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor utilization

J Sex Med. 2009 Nov;6(11):3111-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01432.x. Epub 2009 Aug 11.


Introduction: Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a prevalent condition that impacts on both patients and their female partners. ED may therefore be regarded as a shared sexual concern for couples. The current analysis of the Female Experience of Men's Attitudes to Life Events and Sexuality (FEMALES) study data addresses women's perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes concerning their partner's ED, and whether these are associated with the likelihood of the male partner seeking medical advice and utilizing phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors.

Aim: The current research sought to explore the association of female partners' perceptions of male partners' ED and male partners' medical consultation and treatment seeking for ED.

Methods: Questionnaires were sent to partners of men who participated in the Men's Attitudes to Life Events and Sexuality (MALES) 2004 study, and who consented to their partner's involvement. A modified version of the questionnaire used in the MALES study was developed for the FEMALES study, reflecting the female partner's perspective.

Main outcome measure: A 65-item questionnaire assessing women's perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes regarding various aspects of ED.

Results: Women's perceptions of the nature and causes of their partner's ED were significantly associated with men's treatment seeking and utilization. Significant associations were observed between women's level of satisfaction with the relationship before ED onset; perceptions of the impact of ED on quality of life; desire to deal with ED; attitudes to ED treatment; and the treatment-seeking behavior of the male partner. Multivariate regression analyses identified a mixture of female and male partner perceptions and attitudes that uniquely accounted for >30% of the variance in men's ED treatment-seeking behavior and treatment utilization.

Conclusion: This study illustrates the importance of the female partner's attitudes to ED in men's ED treatment-seeking behavior. These findings strongly support the potential benefits of partner integration into ED consultation and treatment strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3',5'-Cyclic-GMP Phosphodiesterases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude
  • Culture
  • Erectile Dysfunction / drug therapy
  • Erectile Dysfunction / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • 3',5'-Cyclic-GMP Phosphodiesterases