Men who feel good about their genitals tend to have less sexual anxiety, according to a new study of military personnel.
As over a third of younger men in the military suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED), recognizing the importance of genital self-image might help doctors work with these patients.
Penis size is a concern for lots of men. But male genital self-image is about more than length and girth. Men may worry about their overall genital appearance and function, especially when they are with a sexual partner. Self-consciousness can lead to sexual anxiety and, in turn, problems with sexual performance.
The researchers surveyed a group of 367 men between the ages of 21 and 40 who were serving in the American armed forces. The men filled out several questionnaires designed to assess their erectile function, their genital self-image, and their levels of sexual anxiety.
They found that the men who viewed their genitals positively experienced less sexual anxiety than those whose genital self-image was negative. They were also less likely to have ED.
Many factors can contribute to erection problems, including conditions like diabetes and side effects of medications. However, the authors suggested that doctors also consider genital self-image when assessing men with ED, especially when there seems to be no physical cause.
“Psychotherapy may be an important tool for young men who are dissatisfied with their genitals,” they wrote.
The study was first published online in April in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Wilcox, Sherrie L., PhD
“Genital Image, Sexual Anxiety, and Erectile Dysfunction Among Young Male Military Personnel”
(Full-text. April 30, 2015)