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J Sex Med. 2009 Oct;6(10):2746-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01457.x. Epub 2009 Aug 17.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a shared sexual concern of couples I: couple conceptions of ED.

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Psychology and Obstetrics and Gynecology, Social Science Centre 7428, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario N6A 5C2, Canada.



Erectile dysfunction (ED) may be regarded as a shared sexual concern with a significant negative impact on both patients and their partners.


The current research sought to explore the degree of concordance or divergence of couple members' perceptions of the specific functional impairments characterizing the man's ED, and the concordance or discordance of their attitudes, beliefs and experiences about the male partner's erectile difficulty.


Questionnaires were sent to partners of men who participated in the Men's Attitudes to Life Events and Sexuality (MALES) 2004 study, who consented to their partner's involvement. A modified version of the questionnaire used in the MALES study was employed, adapted to reflect the female partner's perspective. Questionnaire responses were analyzed in relation to responses provided by male study participants.


A 65-item questionnaire assessing women's perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes regarding aspects of ED.


High levels of concordance between couple members were observed across almost all items. Women's perceptions of both the specific functional impairments characterizing their partner's ED and the frequency of the partner's erection difficulty were strongly associated with assessments the men themselves had made. Significant associations were also observed between couple members' responses relating to their beliefs about the causes of ED, effects of ED on the relationship, communication about ED, finding a solution to ED, and attitudes toward medication. A number of specific male-female discordant perceptions and attitudes were also identified.


Findings of this study demonstrate a high degree of concordance in couple members' perceptions of the male partner's ED, and in their attitudes and beliefs about ED. Specific instances of discordance between couple members may contribute to treatment avoidance or couple conflict.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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