Psychological Distress in Erectile Dysfunction: The Moderating Role of Attachment

Francesc Maestre-Lorén, José A. Castillo-Garayoa, Xavier López-i-Martín, Joaquim Sarquella-Geli, Ana Andrés, Ignacio Cifre

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13 Cites (Scopus)


Introduction: In clinical consultations, men with erectile dysfunction do not always express personal, sexual, and interpersonal concerns. Aim: We explore whether the attenuated impact of erectile dysfunction may be explained by a regulation of negative affect that causes activation of the attachment system. Methods: The study sample consisted of 69 men diagnosed with erectile dysfunction, mean (SD) age 56 (10.83) years. Participants completed self-reported questionnaires to assess erectile dysfunction severity, attachment style, sexual satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, and psychological symptoms. Main Outcome Measure: The moderating role of attachment between erectile dysfunction and sexual satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, and psychological distress was evaluated using multiple linear regression and moderation analysis. Results: All men in the sample had high attachment avoidance, distributed between the dismissive-avoidant (69.6%) and fearful-avoidant (30.4%) substyles, but low levels of psychological symptoms. Despite their erectile dysfunction, 27 patients (39.1%) rated their sexual life as satisfactory, and 46 (66.7%) rated their relationship with their partner as satisfactory. Men with fearful-avoidant attachment reported feeling more sexual desire and less sexual satisfaction than men with dismissive-avoidant attachment. Multiple linear regression analysis showed that sexual satisfaction variance was explained by erectile dysfunction severity, attachment anxiety, and relationship satisfaction scores. Moderation analysis showed that attachment anxiety, but not relationship satisfaction, moderated the impact of erectile dysfunction on sexual satisfaction. Conclusion: The avoidance dimension of attachment, which tends to be high in patients with erectile dysfunction, involves deactivation of the sexual system in an effort to minimize the emotional distress associated with erectile dysfunction, which damages sexual and relationship intimacy and delays the decision to obtain professional help. The presence of high attachment avoidance and the moderating value of attachment anxiety allow us to propose specific treatments for these men. Maestre-Lorén F, Castillo-Garayoa JA, López-i-Martín X, et al. Psychological Distress in Erectile Dysfunction: The Moderating Role of Attachment. Sex Med 2021;9:100436.

Idioma originalAnglès
Número d’article100436
RevistaSexual Medicine
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - d’oct. 2021


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