Conflicts Within the Family and Within the Couple as Contextual Factors in the Determinism of Male Sexual Dysfunction

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The deterioration of a couple's relationship has been previously associated with impairment in male sexual function. Besides a couple's dystonic relationship, other stressors can unfavorably influence dyadic intimacy. A largely neglected etiopathogenetic factor affecting couple sexuality is the frustration caused by conflicts within the family.


To evaluate the possible associations between male sexual dysfunction (SD) and conflictual relationships within the couple or the family.


A consecutive series of 3,975 men, attending the Outpatient Clinic for SD for the first time, was retrospectively studied. Conflicts within the family and within the couple were assessed using two standard questions: “Are there any conflicts at home,” and “Do you have a difficult relationship with your partner?” respectively, rating 0 = normal relationships, 1 = occasional quarrels, and 2 = frequent quarrels or always.

Main Outcome Measures.

Several clinical, biochemical, and psychological (Middlesex Hospital Questionnaire) parameters were studied.


Among the 3,975 patients studied, we observed a high prevalence of conflicts within the family and within the couple (32% vs. 21.2%). When compared with the rest of the sample, subjects reporting both type of conflicts showed a higher prevalence of psychiatric comorbidities. Hence, all data were adjusted for this parameter and for age. Family and couple conflicts were significantly associated with free floating anxiety, depression symptoms, and with a higher risk of subjective (self-reported) and objective (peak systolic velocity at the penile color Doppler ultrasound <35 mm/sec2) erectile dysfunction and hypoactive sexual desire. Female sexual function parameters, as reported by the patient, retained a significant association with both type of conflicts.


This study indicates that the presence of often unexplored issues, like conflicts within the family or within the couple, can represent an important contextual factor in the determinism of male SD. BoddiV, Fanni E, Castellini G, FisherAD, Corona G, and Maggi M. Conflicts within the family and within the couple as contextual factors in the determinism of male sexual dysfunction. J Sex Med 2015;12:2425–2435.

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