HowHotIs He? A Psychophysiological and Psychosocial Examination of the Arousal Patterns of Sexually Functional and Dysfunctional Men

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Despite much theorizing about the interchangeability of desire and arousal, research has yet to identify whether men with desire vs. arousal disorders can be differentiated based on their psychophysiological patterns of arousal. Additionally, little research has examined the relationship between subjective (SA) and genital arousal (GA) in sexually dysfunctional men.


To compare patterns of SA and GA in a community sample of men meeting DSM-IV-TR criteria for hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), erectile dysfunction (ED), both HSDD and ED (ED/HSDD), and healthy controls.


Seventy-one men (19 controls, 13 HSDD, 19 ED, 20 ED/HSDD) completed self-report measures and watched two 15-minute film clips (neutral and erotic), while GA and SA were measured both continuously and discretely.

Main Outcome Measures.

Groups were compared on genital temperature (as an indicator of GA), SA, and psychosocial variables (i.e., body image, emotion regulation, sexual attitudes, sexual inhibition/excitation, mood, and trauma).


Genital temperature increased for all groups during the erotic condition, yet men with ED and ED/HSDD showed less GA than men without erectile difficulties. All groups increased in SA during the erotic condition, yet ED/HSDD men reported less SA than controls or ED men. SA and GA were highly correlated for controls, and less strongly correlated for clinical groups; men with ED showed low agreement between SA and GA. Groups also differed on body image, sexual inhibition/excitation, sexual attitudes and alexithymia.


Low desire vs. arousal sufferers have unique patterns of response, with those with both difficulties showing greatest impairment. Results have important implications for the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders. Sarin S, Amsel R, and Binik YM. Howhotis he? A psychophysiological and psychosocial examination of the arousal patterns of sexually functional and dysfunctional men. J Sex Med 2014;11:1725–1740.

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