Advances in the Psychophysiological Evaluation of Male Erectile Impotence

  • Ismet Karacan
Part of the Perspectives in Sexuality book series (PISE)


In any case of sexual dysfunction, a major assessment issue is the evaluation of a possible physiological basis for the dysfunction. Obviously, the psychological procedures of sex therapy cannot be expected to reverse actual physical pathology. One very common assessment issue is the question of whether a man with erectile impotence is physiologically capable of achieving an erection. Until very recently, sex therapists had to rely on indirect assessment of erectile capability. Typically, neurological, hormonal, and blood studies would be performed, but the results were often ambiguous. Psychological screening also has not been able to differentiate functional and organic impotence with certainty. Recently, however, it has been discovered that penile erection is one component of rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep in physiologically intact males. Subsequently, monitoring of nocturnal penile tumescence has been shown to be a means of accurately evaluating erectile capability. In this article, Karacan describes the use of techniques to measure nocturnal penile tumescence in order to make the differential diagnosis of functional and organic erectile impotence.


Penile Erection Vaginal Penetration Erectile Response Nocturnal Penile Tumescence Erect Penis 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ismet Karacan
    • 1
  1. 1.Sleep Disorders Center, Department of PsychiatryBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA

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