Evid Based Nurs 6:32 doi:10.1136/ebn.6.1.32
  • Qualitative

The lived experience of men with erectile dysfunction was reflected in the themes of loss and being alone with it

 QUESTION: What are the issues facing men who live with erectile dysfunction (ED), particularly in their relationships with women partners and in their interactions with the wider community?


Qualitative study.


United Kingdom.


A convenience sample of 9 men (age range 28–72 y) who were selected from new general practitioner (GP) referrals to a district general hospital and a specialist neurology clinic.


Men participated in semistructured indepth interviews that were audiotaped, transcribed, and analysed using an iterative process to generate categories and themes.

Main findings

2 main themes, loss and being alone with it, emerged. These 2 themes were connected via the meta-categories making sense of it, telling other people, and place of sex in the relationship.

The theme of loss was related to a sense of manhood: “How can I be a man if I can’t maintain or have erections?” Men referred to a hierarchy of signs that confer manhood (with erections at the top, followed by penile sensation, desire for sex, and ejaculations), and gauged the seriousness of their ED by comparing it with this hierarchy. They generally believed there was a lack of public …

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