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Research and Advances in Psychiatry

Psychophysiological responses to visual erotic stimulation in patients with psychogenic Erectile Dysfunction

Original Article, 67 - 74
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Introduction: psychophysiological measures are known to change during sexual arousal in healthy men. They may be considered a useful tool to understand psychosomatic differences between men with and without psychogenic Erectile Dysfunction (ED). Despite to clear role played by penile tumescence, heart and respiratory rates appear to show idiosyncratic responses to erotic stimulation. In the present study, we want to study the relationship between autonomical component of sexual arousal and Psychogenic ED.
Methods: 15 right-handed heterosexual outpatients with psychogenic ED and 20 healthy right-handed heterosexual men, after urological, psychiatric and psychological assessment, were monitored for penile tumescence (PT) response, heart (HR) and respiratory (RR) rates during visual erotic stimulation (VES) comprising erotic and non erotic clips. To study between, group differences we calculated the PT, HR and RR variations (max value-minimum value) for the different epochs of VES. Moreover, PT, HR and RR for the groups were correlated to sexual functioning and personality measures.
Results: between-group comparison showed significant lower values in patients than controls for PT and HR (p<0.05 corrected and p<0.05 uncorrected respectively). A positive correlation (ρ=0.53, p<0.05) was observed for PT and behavioral inhibition index
in patient group. Moreover HR is positive related to sexual excitation (ρ=0.56, p<0.05).
Conclusions: patients showed alterations of the autonomical component of the sexual arousal, as measured by PT, and general arousal, as measured by HR. These results confirm that psychogenic ED is a multifaceted dysfunction that affects the recognition of internal states of the patients.