Study: Genital Image, Sexual Anxiety, and Erectile Dysfunction Among Young Male Military Personnel (2015)

Comments: The study states that “More than a third of young military personnel report experiencing some level of erectile dysfunction (ED)”. This extraordinarily high rate of ED aligns with several other recent studies on young men. The study found a  relationship between “male genital self-image”, “sexual anxiety” and ED. In other words, concerns about penis size and ability to perform were somewhat related to ED. Might both be markers for porn-induced ED? Common sense anyone?

J Sex Med. 2015 Apr 30. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12880.

Wilcox SL1, Redmond S, Davis TL.



More than a third of young military personnel report experiencing some level of erectile dysfunction (ED). Preoccupation with body image, particularly genitals, is a distraction that can influence sexual anxiety (SA) and sexual functioning problems (SFPs), particularly ED.


This study assessed the relationships between male genital self-image (MGSI), SA, and ED in a sample of male military personnel age 40 or younger.


Data were from a larger study on SFPs in military populations. This sample consisted of 367 male military personnel age 40 or younger. Hierarchical regression analyses and process modeling using mediation analysis were performed to examine the effects of MGSI on ED with SA as an intermediate variable. We predicted that SA would mediate the relationship between MGSI and ED.


ED severity was assessed with the International Index of Erectile Function. MGSI was assessed using the MGSI Scale. SA was assessed with the SA subscale of the Sexual Needs Scale.


As hypothesized, greater satisfaction with MGSI was predictive of significantly lower SA (F[8, 352] = 4.07, P = 0.001) and lower ED (F[8, 352] = 13.20, P = 0.001). Lower levels of SA were predictive of lower levels of ED (F[8, 354] = 21.35, P < 0.001). Additionally, results also revealed a significant indirect effect of MGSI on ED through SA (b = -0.07, standard error = 0.03, confidence interval = [-0.14,-0.02], P < 0.05), indicating mediation of MGSI on ED via SA.


This study underscores the complex etiologic basis of SFPs, particularly ED, and highlights the importance of considering psychologic contributors to ED, such as SA and MGSI. Strategies aimed at reducing SA may be useful in improving ED in young military populations and are worth considering as complements to strategies that improve SFPs. Wilcox SL, Redmond S, and Davis TL. Genital image, sexual anxiety, and erectile dysfunction among young male military personnel.