Erectile Dysfunction and Premature Ejaculation in Homosexual and Heterosexual Men: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Comparative Studies

J Sex Med. 2019 May;16(5):624-632. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2019.02.014. Epub 2019 Mar 26.


Introduction: Comparative studies on differences in sexual function outcomes between homosexual and heterosexual men are sparse and inconclusive.

Aim: To systematically evaluate whether, and to what extent, a statistically significant difference exists in the odds of erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature ejaculation (PE) between homosexual and heterosexual men.

Methods: A thorough search of Medline, SCOPUS, CINAHL, and Web of Science databases was carried out to identify case-control studies comparing the prevalence of ED and PE in homosexual and heterosexual men. Methodological quality of the included studies was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. Odds ratios (ORs) of reporting ED and PE were combined using random effect models. The Cochrane Q and I2 tests were carried out to analyze the between-studies heterogeneity. Funnel plots and trim-and-fill analysis were used to assess publication bias.

Main outcome measures: The relationship between sexual orientation and odds of ED and PE was assessed by calculating pooled ORs with a 95% CI.

Results: 4 studies included in the quantitative analysis collectively provided information on 1,807 homosexual and 4,055 heterosexual men. The pooled ORs indicated that homosexual orientation was associated with 1.5-fold higher odds of reporting ED (OR = 1.49, 95% CI = 1.03-2.16; P = .04) and 28.0% lower odds of reporting PE in comparison to the heterosexual orientation (OR = 0.72, 95% CI = 0.52-1.00; P = .05). However, a significant heterogeneity among the studies was observed. Funnel plots revealed a possible publication bias only for the ED analysis, where the trim-and-fill test detected a putative missing study. Nevertheless, even when the pooled estimate was adjusted for publication bias, there was a significantly higher risk of ED in the homosexual group (adjusted OR = 1.60, 95% CI = 1.10-2.30; P = .01).

Clinical implications: These findings can drive future studies on sexual needs and concerns of homosexual men, which might not exactly match those of heterosexual individuals.

Strength & limitations: This is the first meta-analysis exploring the differences in the prevalence of ED and PE between homosexual and heterosexual men. However, the results should be interpreted with caution, because their generalization could be hindered by the non-probabilistic nature of the samples, and a measurement bias could result from the use of different non-standardized indicators of sexual dysfunctions.

Conclusion: Homosexual orientation is associated with higher odds of ED and lower odds of PE compared with heterosexual orientation. Further studies are warranted to elucidate the clinical significance of these findings and whether they reflect differences in patterns of sexual lifestyle. Barbonetti A, D'Andrea S, Cavallo F, et al. Erectile Dysfunction and Premature Ejaculation in Homosexual and Heterosexual Men: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Comparative Studies. J Sex Med 2019;16:624-632.

Keywords: Early Ejaculation; Erectile Dysfunction; Premature Ejaculation; Sexual Orientation.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Erectile Dysfunction / physiopathology*
  • Heterosexuality
  • Homosexuality
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Premature Ejaculation / physiopathology*
  • Prevalence
  • Sexual Behavior*