The Burden of Sexual Problems: Perceived Effects on Men’s and Women’s Sexual Partners

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The Journal of Sex Research






Sexual dysfunction sometimes negatively affects the individual, his or her partner, and the relationship. We investigated the relationship between the distress experienced by men and women with orgasmic phase difficulties and the perceived distress of their partner(s). We also identified predictors of perceived partner distress, and related self and partner distress to severity of the problem and relationship quality. Data were drawn from 374 men with premature ejaculation (PE) and 377 women with anorgasmia who responded to a survey regarding their sexual functioning, including their distress about their condition and the perceived distress of their partners. Results yielded an overall distress score consisting of combined self and perceived partners distress, with women showing a higher overall score and higher perceived partner distress than men. For men, significant predictors of perceived partner distress included self-distress, relationship quality, interest in sex, and arousal difficulty; for women, only the level of self-distress significantly predicted perceived partner distress. These findings indicate the burden of experiencing sexual difficulty, identify factors related to perceived partner distress, and demonstrate differences in self versus partner distress across men and women. Overall, such findings reiterate the strong need for the inclusion of the partner in any attempted remediation of a sexual problem.