ORIGINAL RESEARCH—ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION: Journey into the Realm of Requests for Help Presented to Sexual Medicine Specialists: Introducing Male Sexual Distress


Edoardo S. Pescatori, MD, Hesperia Hospital—Servizio di Andrologia, Via Arquà 80/A Modena 41100, Italy. Tel: +39 3479024055; Fax: +39 051 835018; E-mail: pescatoriedoardo@libero.it


Introduction.  The recent availability of noninvasive pharmacological remedies for male sexual function triggered an exponential increase in the number of men requesting help in the sexuality area.

Aim.  The Italian Society of Andrology explored requests for help, not included in formerly established clinical categories of sexual medicine.

Methods.  A central board of 67 andrologists identified new areas of requests for help, instrumental for a web-based questionnaire, forwarded to 912 members of the Italian Society of Andrology. Results were submitted to an independent consensus development panel.

Main Outcome Measures.  A questionnaire response rate of 30.8% was considered acceptable according to standard response rates of medical specialist samples.

Results.  The Central Board interaction identified two new domains of requests for help: sexual distress and unconventional requests for pro-erectile medications. Web-based questionnaire results suggested that such domains account for 29% and 9% respectively of all requests for help already presented by male patients at sexual medicine clinics. The Independent Consensus Development Panel issued a final consensus document; herewith, the statement defining male sexual distress: A non-transitory condition and/or feeling of inadequacy such as to impair “sexual health” (WHO working definition). Inadequacy can originate both from physiological modifications of male sexual functions, and from diseases, dysfunctions, dysfunctional symptoms and dysmorphisms, both of andrological and non-andrological origin, which do not relate to “erectile dysfunction” (NIH Consensus Development Panel definition), but that might also induce erectile dysfunction. Sexual Distress can lead to a request for help which needs to be acknowledged.

Conclusion.  The Italian Society of Andrology identified two new areas of requests for help concerning male sexual issues: sexual distress and unconventional requests for pro-erectile medications. These domains, which do not represent new diseases, nonetheless induce the sufferers to seek help and, accordingly, need to be acknowledged. Pescatori ES, Giammusso B, Piubello G, Gentile V, and Pirozzi Farina F. Journey into the realm of requests for help presented to sexual medicine specialists: Introducing male sexual distress. J Sex Med 2007;4:762–770.