Introduction. The Men's Attitudes to Life Events and Sexuality (MALES) study assessed the prevalence and correlates of erectile dysfunction, and examined men's attitudes and behavior in relation to this dysfunction.
Aim. To report on the attitudes of men, with and without self-reported erectile dysfunction, concerning masculine identity and quality of life.
Methods. The MALES Phase I study included 27,839 randomly selected men (aged 20–75 years) from eight countries (United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and Brazil) who responded to a standardized computer-assisted telephone interview.
Main Outcome Measure. Perceptions of masculinity and quality of life in men with and without erectile dysfunction.
Results. Men's perceptions of masculinity differed substantially from stereotypes in the literature. Men reported that being seen as honorable, self-reliant, and respected by friends were important determinants of self-perceived masculinity. In contrast, factors stereotypically associated with masculinity, such as being physically attractive, sexually active, and successful with women, were deemed to be less important to men's sense of masculinity. These findings appeared consistently across all nationalities and all age groups studied. For quality of life, factors that men deemed of significant importance included good health, harmonious family life, and a good relationship with their wife/partner. Such factors had significantly greater importance to quality of life than concerns such as having a good job, having a nice home, living life to the full, or having a satisfying sex life. Of note, rankings of constructs of masculinity and quality of life did not meaningfully differ in men with or without erectile dysfunction, and men with erectile dysfunction who did or did not seek treatment for their sexual dysfunction.
Conclusions. The present findings highlight the significance of partnered relationships and interpersonal factors in the management of erectile dysfunction, and empirically challenge a number of widely held stereotypes concerning men, masculinity, sex, and quality of life. Sand MS, Fisher W, Rosen R, Heiman J, and Eardley I. Erectile dysfunction and constructs of masculinity and quality of life in the multinational Men's Attitudes to Life Events and Sexuality (MALES) study. J Sex Med 2008;5:583–594.