Epidemiology of sexual dysfunction in the male population


Prof. Dr M. E. Beutel, Klinik und Poliklinik für Psychosomatische Medizin und Psychotherapie, Untere Zahlbacher Straße 8, 55131 Mainz, Germany. Tel.: +49-6131-1712841; Fax: +49-6131-176688; E-mail: beutel@psychosomatik.klinik.uni-mainz.de


Sexual dysfunctions have found an increasing attention in recent epidemiological studies of the ageing male. The purpose of this paper is to review the prevalence of sexual dysfunctions and risk factors based on community samples. Studies have not only demonstrated a strong age-related incline of erectile dysfunction (ED), but also of ejaculatory and orgasmic disorders (particularly a reduced or absent ejaculation). Despite a declining sexual desire, sexual interest remains present in old age. Lower urinary tract symptoms have been identified as strong risk factors for ED along with cardiovascular, metabolic, psychiatric disorders and lifestyle factors. The wide range of prevalence rate estimates is likely because of different definitions and criteria of sexual dysfunctions. More research is needed on other dysfunctions besides ED and on the partner relationship as a major determinant of sexual activity and satisfaction. The interrelationship between risk factors calls for interdisciplinary prevention and treatment approaches. As disability-free life expectancy keeps increasing, the need to identify, adequately assess and treat male sexual dysfunction as an important impediment to quality of life most likely will become even more pressing.