In a provocative new study, researchers have linked erectile dysfunction and related problems in middle-aged and older men to a relationship dynamic called “partner betweenness.” That’s when a wife is closer to her husband’s friends than he is.
“Men who experience partner betweenness in their joint relationships are more likely to have trouble getting or maintaining an erection and are also more likely to experience difficulty achieving orgasm during sex,” study authors Benjamin Cornwell, a professor of sociology at Cornell University, and Edward Laumann, a sociology professor at the University of Chicago, said in a written statement.
Partner betweenness undermines men’s feelings of autonomy and privacy, which are central to traditional concepts of masculinity, they said. And that can take a big toll on a man’s sex life.
“A man whose female partner has greater contact with some of his confidants than he does is about 92 percent more likely to have trouble getting or maintaining an erection than a man who has greater access than his partner does to all of his confidants.”
Of course, erectile dysfunction can also be caused by medical problems, such as obesity, heart disease, kidney, and diabetes, as well as by certain medications.
The study, based on surveys of 3,005 people between the ages of 57 and 85, was published in the July 2011 issue of the Journal of Sociology.
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