Diagnosis and treatment of psychogenic erectile dysfunction in a urological setting: outcomes of 18 consecutive patients

J Urol. 1993 May;149(5 Pt 2):1258-61. doi: 10.1016/s0022-5347(17)36361-9.


The diagnostic criteria and treatment outcomes of 18 consecutive patients with psychogenic erectile dysfunction were examined. Average patient age was 38 years, and all patients had either awakening penile or masturbatory rigidity. Each patient was studied with home monitoring (ART-1000) on 2 consecutive nights. The average number of maximum erectile episodes, the event during which the maximum rigidity was maintained for at least 5 minutes, was 1.6. The maximum sleep erectile episodes averaged 11.2 minutes during which penile rigidity averaged 572 gm. The main predictor for remission of erectile dysfunction in this study was whether the dysfunction was primary or secondary. Of 14 patients with secondary psychogenic erectile dysfunction, that is history of being able to achieve and maintain penile rigidity sufficient for at least 5 minutes of vaginal intercourse, 10 (71%) experienced remission. Three patients noticed spontaneous remission during the initial evaluation and another 3 experienced remission within 3 months of completion of the evaluation and reassurance that they had normal erectile capacity. Two patients had remission while considering penile vascular surgery and in 2 normal erectile function returned during injection therapy. Only 2 of 3 patients referred for sex therapy actually received it (Freudian theory), and neither noticed improvement in erectile function. One patient received yohimbine without benefit. None of the patients elected treatment with the vacuum constriction device. All 4 patients with primary psychogenic erectile dysfunction, that is never able to achieve and/or maintain penile rigidity sufficient to achieve vaginal intercourse, failed to respond to physician reassurance and time. Of 2 patients who received sex therapy (1 Freudian and 1 behavioral) without improvement in erectile function 1 has entered the pharmacological erection program and has achieved vaginal penetration, and the other is considering the pharmacological erection program. The remaining 2 patients have deferred all therapy. Based on this experience, we currently reassure patients with secondary psychogenic erectile dysfunction that they have erectile capacity for sustained vaginal intercourse and schedule a followup visit in 3 months. Additional individualized therapy (pharmacological erection program, vacuum constriction device, sensate focus/psychodynamic specific therapy or penile prosthesis) is offered as needed and requested. Patients with primary psychogenic erectile dysfunction are initially offered the pharmacological erection program or the vacuum constriction device and sex sensate focus/psychodynamic specific therapy. The penile prosthesis is considered for treatment failures.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Erectile Dysfunction / diagnosis
  • Erectile Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / psychology*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / therapy
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Penile Erection
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders* / physiopathology
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders* / therapy
  • Remission Induction
  • Remission, Spontaneous
  • Self Disclosure
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urology Department, Hospital