Impaired masturbation-induced erections: a new cardiovascular risk factor for male subjects with sexual dysfunction

J Sex Med. 2013 Apr;10(4):1100-13. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12052. Epub 2013 Jan 24.


Introduction: Erectile dysfunction (ED) is considered an early surrogate marker of silent, or even overt, cardiovascular diseases (CVD). However, epidemiological studies take into account only sexual intercourse-related erections. Although autoeroticism is a very common practice, data on masturbation-induced erections as a possible predictor of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) are lacking.

Aim: To evaluate the clinical correlates of impaired masturbation-induced erections and to verify the importance of this sexual aspect in predicting MACE.

Methods: A consecutive series of 4,031 male patients attending the Outpatient Clinic for sexual dysfunction for the first time was retrospectively studied. Among these subjects, 64% reported autoeroticism during the last 3 months, and only this subset was considered in the following analyses. In the longitudinal study, 862 subjects reporting autoeroticism were enrolled.

Main outcome measures: Several clinical, biochemical, and instrumental (Prostaglandin E1 [PGE1 ] test and penile color Doppler ultrasound) parameters were studied.

Results: Subjects with an impaired erection during masturbation (46% of those reporting autoeroticism) had more often a positive personal or family history of CVD, a higher risk of reduced intercourse- and sleep-related erections, hypoactive sexual desire and perceived reduced ejaculate volume, and impaired PGE1 test response. Prolactin levels were lower in those having impaired erection during masturbation. In the longitudinal study, unadjusted incidence of MACE was significantly associated with impaired masturbation-induced erections. When dividing the population according to the median age and diagnosis of diabetes, the association between impaired masturbation-induced erections and incidence of MACE was maintained only in the youngest (<55 years old) and in nondiabetic subjects, even after adjusting for confounders (hazard ratio [HR] = 3.348 [1.085-10.335], P = 0.032 and HR = 2.108 [1.002-4.433], P = 0.049; respectively).

Conclusion: This study indicates that, in subjects with male sexual dysfunction, evaluating an often neglected sexual parameter, such as masturbation-induced erections, can provide further insights on forthcoming MACE in particular in "low risk" subjects.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Alprostadil
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / epidemiology*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Libido
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Masturbation / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prolactin / blood
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Vasodilator Agents


  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Prolactin
  • Alprostadil