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Biopsychosocial Determinants of Men's Sexual Desire: Testing an Integrative Model

Authors

  • Joana Carvalho MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro—Departamento de Educação e Psicologia, Vila Real, Portugal
    2. Universidade de Aveiro—Departamento de Educação, Aveiro, Portugal
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  • Pedro Nobre PhD

    1. Universidade de Aveiro—Departamento de Educação, Aveiro, Portugal
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Joana Carvalho, MD, Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro—Departamento de Educação e Psicologia, Vila Real, Portugal. Tel: 00351 234370644; Fax: 00351 234 370640; E-mail: joana.pereira.carvalho@gmail.com

ABSTRACT

Introduction.  There is a severe lack of studies on male sexual desire and its biopsychosocial determinants. Most of the studies are focused on female sexual interest and are based on the contribution of single dimensions instead of the interaction between them.

Aim.  The aim of the present study was to test a conceptual model considering the interrelated role of biopsychosocial factors on male sexual desire. This model allowed us to test not only the unique impact of predictors that are traditionally related to sexual desire, but also how their interaction affects sexual desire in men.

Methods.  Two hundred and thirty seven men from the general population were assessed according to age (mean age = 35, standard deviation = 11), medical problems, psychopathology, dyadic adjustment, and cognitive-emotional factors.

Main Outcome Measures.  Psychopathology measured by the Brief Symptom Inventory, dysfunctional sexual beliefs measured by the Sexual Dysfunctional Beliefs Questionnaire, thoughts and emotions in sexual context measured by the Sexual Modes Questionnaire, dyadic adjustment measured by the Dyadic Adjustment Scale, medical condition measured by the Medical History Formulation, and sexual desire measured by the Sexual Desire subscale of the International Index of Erectile Function.

Results.  Results showed that cognitive factors (sexual beliefs and automatic thoughts during sexual activity) were the best predictors of sexual desire in men. Specifically, beliefs related to restrictive attitudes toward sexuality, erection concerns, and lack of erotic thoughts in sexual context, had a significant direct effect on reduced sexual desire. Moreover, this set of cognitive-emotional factors also mediated the relationship between medical problems, age, and sexual desire.

Conclusions.  Results from this integrative approach highlighted the role of cognitive factors related to cultural values (dysfunctional sexual beliefs) and distraction mechanisms during sexual context (automatic thoughts) in male sexual interest. Findings support the need to include cognitive dimensions in the assessment and treatment of sexual desire problems, considering their involvement as vulnerability or resiliency factors for deficient sexual desire in men. Moreover, these factors surpassed the importance of the remaining factors (particularly, of medical factors and psychopathology), showing that, despite the lack of studies, male sexuality is better conceptualized from a biopsychosocial perspective. Carvalho J and Nobre P. Biopsychosocial determinants of men's sexual desire: Testing an integrative model. J Sex Med 2011;8:754–763.

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