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In the treatment of couples where the male partners have erectile dysfunction (ED) it often becomes apparent that characteristics of the female partners and of the relationship in general have contributed to the problem. However, this has received little research attention. We investigated female partners of men with ED where no organic cause could be found (n = 34) and partners of men with organically based ED (n = 71) to compare their views on their relationships, sexual function, sexual attitudes, and psychological adjustment. Relationship problems and the psychosexual dysfunctions of vaginismus and dyspareunia were more common in the partners of men with nonorganic ED; they also reported higher levels of sexual interest. Female sexual dysfunctions in the nonorganic ED group had usually preceded the onset of the erectile difficulties. While belief in male sexual myths was substantial in both groups of patients, neither the presence of traditional views on sexuality nor psychological complaints distinguished partners of men experiencing nonorganic ED from those with organic ED. Relationship problems, female psychosexual dysfunction, and the possible effect of relatively high levels of female sexual interest may contribute to the onset, exacerbation, and maintenance of ED. These should be addressed during assessment and treatment of couples in which the male partners have erectile difficulties. © 1995 Plenum Publishing Corporation.

Original publication




Journal article


Archives of Sexual Behavior

Publication Date





157 - 172