TUESDAY, Aug. 9, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- When an older man's wife or girlfriend has a stronger bond with his friends than he does, his performance in the bedroom tends to suffer, a new study shows.
In fact, the researchers found that men who find themselves in this situation "are more likely to have trouble getting or maintaining an erection and are also more likely to experience difficulty achieving orgasm during sex," compared to couples where there's a clearer line between his friends and hers, wrote study authors Benjamin Cornwell, a professor of sociology at Cornell University, and Edward Laumann, a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago.
In the study, published online Aug. 8 in the American Journal of Sociology, the researchers analyzed a national survey of more than 3,000 people ranging in age from 57 to 85.
They believe that when a female partner comes between a middle-aged or older man and his best friends, it may undermine his feelings of independence and privacy.
Ultimately, the researchers argued, this scenario leads to significant problems with the couple's partner satisfaction, in terms of sexual attraction and the man's own sense of his masculinity. As a result, older men in this situation are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction, the study authors concluded.
The findings also suggest that links between social relationships and sexual health should not be ignored.
"The results point to the importance of social network factors that are rarely considered in medical research -- network structure and the individual's position within it," Laumann said in a Cornell University news release.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information on erectile dysfunction.