Women whose partners have Peyronie’s disease often experience sexual dysfunction themselves, according to new research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Peyronie’s disease is thought to be a wound-healing disorder. It causes areas of hardened scar tissue called plaques to form on the penis, just under the skin. As a result, the penis loses some of its flexibility and starts to bend. Sometimes, the curvature is so severe that intercourse becomes difficult, if not impossible.
Distress is common among men with Peyronie’s disease, who may feel depressed, less confident, and anxious about pleasing their partners. However, the impact of Peyronie’s disease on female partners had not been widely investigated.
To learn more, a group of Canadian researchers collected data from 44 heterosexual couples in which the male partner had Peyronie’s disease. Each participant completed a variety of questionnaires that assessed overall sexual satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, and emotional experiences.
The Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) was used to evaluate six domains in women: desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain. Similarly, men completed the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF), which assesses erectile function, orgasms, desire, intercourse satisfaction, and overall satisfaction.
The couples also answered a question about the degree to which Peyronie’s disease interfered with their ability to have penetrative sex.
On average, the women were around 53 years old and had been in their relationships for about 24 years.
The researchers compared the questionnaire results to those of normative samples. Overall, the participants’ relationships were generally healthy. Women’s sexual satisfaction was significantly lower than the samples, but men’s satisfaction was not. Average FSFI and IIEF scores suggested female sexual dysfunction and erectile dysfunction, respectively. Lower mood was also reported.
The authors were surprised to find that scores on the relationship satisfaction questionnaire were in the normal range, even when couples reported greater sexual interference. It’s possible that the couples could keep the sexual and emotional aspects of their relationships separate. In other words, any sexual difficulties did not appear to affect their ability to function successfully as a couple.
The researchers acknowledged limitations to their study, including the lack of a control group and small sample size. They also noted that they did not ask the participants about their sexual function before the onset of Peyronie’s disease.
Still, they encouraged healthcare providers to consider both members of a couple when treating this condition. Women who develop sexual problems could benefit from treatment, they explained. And women’s experiences could influence the outcomes for men.
“Individual, couple-based, and group cognitive-behavior therapies have shown promising results for women with genital pain,” they wrote. “And these could provide excellent therapy models for [Peyronie’s disease].”
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Davis, Seth N. P., PhD, et al.
“Female Partners of Men With Peyronie's Disease Have Impaired Sexual Function, Satisfaction, and Mood, While Degree of Sexual Interference Is Associated With Worse Outcomes”
(Published online: May 18, 2016)