How Might Female Stress Urinary Incontinence Affect Male Partners’ Sexual Function?

How Might Female Stress Urinary Incontinence Affect Male Partners’ Sexual Function?


Urinary incontinence is a common problem that affects many people’s lives. Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is a prevalent type, especially among women. It can cause physical discomfort and impact one’s mental health and overall quality of life. SUI can also affect a person’s sexual function in about 50% of cases.

Surgery is a common treatment for SUI, but its effects on sexual function are still unclear. Some studies suggest it can improve sexual function, but concerns about safety exist due to the risk of neurovascular damage and dyspareunia (painful intercourse). Additionally, there is limited research on how SUI and its treatments in women may affect male partners’ sexual function.


A team of researchers conducted a systematic literature review and meta-analysis to explore how female SUI and its related treatments might affect male partners’ sexual function. The authors of the study searched five databases for relevant publications up to September 6, 2022.

The inclusion criteria involved studies that directly surveyed male partners or used the Pelvic Organ Prolapse/Urinary Incontinence Sexual Questionnaire (PISQ) to assess the effect of female SUI or its treatment on male partners’ sexual function. A total of 2,294 studies were identified, but in the end, just 18 of the studies (with a total of 1,3450 participants) met the inclusion criteria and were analyzed in the current study.

Various assessment tools, like the Golombok-Rust Inventory of Sexual Satisfaction (GRISS), the International Index of Erectile Function–5 (IIEF-5), and the Male Sexual Health Questionnaire (MSHQ), were used to evaluate male partners’ sexual function. Additionally, the PISQ-12 and International Urogynecological Association Revised PISQ (PISQ-IR) were used to assess female SUI patients’ sexual function and its impact on their male partners.


The literature search process resulted in the inclusion of 18 studies from various countries, with most being prospective cohort studies. Nine studies directly assessed the effect of female SUI with or without treatment on male partners’ sexual function, while nine studies indirectly assessed this impact through surveys of female SUI patients.

The primary results indicated that male partners of women with untreated SUI had worse erectile function, lower sexual frequency, and more sexual dissatisfaction than male partners of women without SUI.

Surgery for SUI appeared to improve the partners’ sexual function in various aspects, including erectile function, orgasmic function, sexual desire, intercourse satisfaction, and overall satisfaction. However, the clinical significance of these improvements remains unclear.

Finally, non-surgical treatments for SUI (such as pulsed magnetic stimulation and laser treatment) also led to improvements in male partners’ sexual function, but these improvements were not clinically significant.

Discussion & Conclusion

Overall, this study suggests that female SUI and its treatments can have both direct and indirect effects on male partners’ sexual function. It found that males whose female partners had SUI often faced issues with sexual function, including erectile dysfunction and sexual dissatisfaction, but surgical interventions generally showed positive outcomes.

The study highlights the importance of considering the impact of SUI and its treatments on both female patients and their male partners. Nevertheless, further research with larger sample sizes and longer follow-up periods is needed to validate these findings and provide clearer clinical recommendations.


  • Tian, Z., Wang, X., Fu, L., Du, Z., & Sun, Z. (2023). Impact of female stress urinary incontinence and related treatments on the sexual function of male partners: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 20(8), 1069-1077.

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