Couples share wine, movies, vacations and bedrooms. Do couples also share sexual problems and solutions?
In the November issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers have published the first-ever prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-institutional treatment study with multi-dimensional psychometrically valid outcomes and concluded that an effective erectile dysfunction treatment in men also significantly improved sexual function and sexual satisfaction in untreated women partners. The research concluded that women partners' sexual function improvements related significantly and consistently to treatment-related improvements in men's erectile function. Furthermore, erectile dysfunction management should acknowledge that both members of the couple may be affected by erectile dysfunction and its treatment.
The research, in an article entitled: "Women's Sexual Function Improves When Partners Are Administered Vardenafil for Erectile Dysfunction: A Prospective, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial," published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, involved 229 men with erectile dysfunction for more than 6 months and their women partners. The women completed baseline sexual function questionnaires including the Female Sexual Function Index, which has 19 questions concerning 6 domains: desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain. Other outcome scales used included the Sexual Life Quality Questionnaire.
The couples were divided into two groups, those couples in which the men with erectile dysfunction received a safe and effective PDE5 inhibitor (vardenafil, Levitra) and those in which the men received placebo. There was no difference between the untreated women's sexual function scores in the two groups at baseline. After 12 weeks and approximately 20 intercourse experiences, the untreated women who were with men assigned to placebo were observed to have their sexual function scores fall in all domains. The untreated women who were with men assigned to effective erectile dysfunction treatment recorded significantly increased sexual function scores in all domains. The greatest increases in sexual function were noted in orgasm and satisfaction domains.
In this landmark research, the physiological changes in sexual function of one member of the couple (the untreated woman) were found to be significantly linked to the physiological changes in sexual function of the other member of the couple (the treated man with ED). There are limited studies in medical literature where a physiological function of one individual not receiving treatment is improved when another individual receives treatment to improve a physiological function.
Dr. William Fisher, co-author of the study and Professor of Psychology, and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, noted that "Erectile dysfunction has never been only about a man, a pill, and a penis. It is often the case that a partner's sexual function suffers when a man experiences ED, and this research documents this fact and the welcome improvement of sexual function among women whose partners received effective treatment for their sexual problem."
"The most fascinating aspect of this study," said Dr. Irwin Goldstein, lead author of the research, "is that the women in the study were untreated and we observed that their physiology changed. Think of this for one minute. These are the first ever data that show physiologic changes in lubrication, orgasm and arousal in an individual who was NOT TREATED."