The harder, the better

Malaysian men have their partners' satisfaction in mind when it comes to the ideal sexual experience, as the more satisfied the women, the more loved and appreciated they feel.

Malaysian men who graded themselves on the highest scale are three times more confident and satisfied with themselves as good sexual partners compared to their less virile counterparts.

These were some of the key findings highlighted at a press conference announcing the results of the Ideal Sex Survey commissioned by Pfizer.

The Ideal Sex survey was conducted last December, with 3,282 male and female respondents in 10 Asia Pacific countries, including Malaysia. The survey was part of Pfizer's continuous efforts to understand the constitutions of ideal sex in the minds of men and women, as well as profile the men's outlook on health, physique, personality, lifestyle preferences, life priorities, sexual relationships, sexual performance and attitudes towards sex according to their Erection Hardness Score (EHS).

The EHS is a self-assessment tool developed by Pfizer to determine the quality of erections. The erection hardness score consists of four grades, whereby grade 4 is the most ideal; when the penis is completely hard and fully rigid. Grade 1 is an example of when the penis is larger but not hard; grade 2 is when the penis is hard, but not hard enough for penetration; and grade 3 is penis is hard enough for penetration, but not completely hard.

When a man's erection hardness is between grade 1-3, this man has some degree of erectile dysfunction.

It is important to note that the survey results in Malaysia generally follow a similar pattern and are consistent with the regional Asia results.

For the Malaysian respondents, nine in 10 men and three in four women (while in Asia as a whole, eight in 10 men and women) ranked erection hardness and the ability to maintain an erection as the most critical aspect in achieving the ideal sexual experience.

Men with optimal erection hardness are significantly more satisfied with their level of sexual desire, overall sex lives and their sexual performance than men with sub-optimal erection hardness. Both men and women agreed that a Grade 4 and the ability to maintain it, gave both partners better orgasm intensity during their sexual intercourse compared to grade 3 erections. Consequently, both partners agreed that quality of the sexual experience outranks quantity at any given time.

Studying sex

Studying sex

As part of a continuing strategy of communications to both physicians and patients, in July 2010, Pfizer Inc commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct a survey about the ideal sexual experience among men and women in the Asia-Pacific regions. The study was designed for public release and seeks to understand the constitutions of ideal sex in the minds of men and women and to explore the hypothesis to profile men who have sub-optimal hardness in terms of health, physique, personality, lifestyle preferences, life priorities, sexual relationships, sexual performance and attitudes toward sex.

The survey of 122 males and 121 females was conducted nationwide in Malaysia. In Malaysia, men and women were randomly sampled using an online consumer panel where they were invited by email to a secure website hosted by Harris Interactive to be screen and if qualified, to complete the online self-administered questionnaire.

All interviews were conducted in Malay. In order to qualify for participation in the study, all males and females must be in the age of 31 to 74 years, have had sexual intercourse at least once in the past 12 months and self-identify themselves (men) or their partners (women) as having either suboptimal erection hardness (EHS Grade 3) or optimal erection hardness (EHS Grade 4).

Males and females were sampled on a geographically-representative basis and the fieldwork was conducted from December 9, 2010 through January 11, 2011. The name of the sponsor of the study was not disclosed in any of the survey materials.

What it means

What it means

"What the survey confirms is that the quality of an erection not only satisfies the men physically, psychologically, and emotionally, but it is equally as important for their partners. When a man has an optimal erection, he has better sexual performance and is able to satisfy his partner better," explains Prof Dr George Lee (right), Associate Professor at Monash University and one of the investigators for the Ideal Sex Survey in Malaysia.

"With fulfilling sexual intimacy, men with EHS Grade 4 have better self-image and confidence and they feel more successful than others."

Apart from unearthing the ideal sex experience, the Ideal Sex Survey also showed the link between the quality of the men's erection and their state of health. About 25% of the Malaysian men who rated their erection as EHS Grade 3 described their overall health as poor or fair, compared to the 17% of men with EHS Grade 4 who rated their health similarly low.

A similar pattern were shown for the regional Asia, where 38% of EHS Grade 3 men rated their overall health as poor or fair, and 24% of EHS Grade 4 men rated their health as similarly low.

This is an important finding as sub-optimal erection has been linked to ischemic heart disease.

"What most men are unaware of is that erectile dysfunction is a recognised early symptom for cardiovascular disease, as it often occurs concurrently with diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and heart disease. As a result of increased cholesterol level and diabetes, the blood vessels are blocked by the accumulation of fatty material along the walls of the arteries.

"These vessels will eventually harden and become narrow, leading to insufficient blood flow to the organ. The blood vessels supplying the male sexual organ are much smaller compared to the rest of the body. Therefore, when these vessels start experiencing difficulties, the rest of the body is also affected primarily the heart," said Prof Lee.

He further added: "It's clear that sub-optimal erection can literally lead to broken hearts - sexual satisfaction for men with EHS Grade 3 and their partners are lower compared to those who have Grade 4 erections. And the risk of ischemic heart disease is higher for the Grade 3 erection men compared to the Grade 4 group. Taking note of the quality of erection and seeking early intervention through consultation with medical professionals may not only improve your sexual experience and improve your self-image, but can improve your overall health."

Taking charge

Taking charge

Prof Lee further elaborated that the Pfizer's Ideal Sex Survey showed that both Malaysian men and women have high expectations when it comes to having the best sexual experience. "Contrary to the popular belief, Malaysians have very high expectation and desire to achieve the perfect sexual experience and satisfaction with their partners, although they don't openly talk about it.

"We hope that this survey has managed to overcome the barrier on the topic of erectile dysfunction, not just for the patients and their partners, but also to the healthcare providers from whom the patients seek advice and treatment.

"With the correct approach and management, we believe that these patients will be able to enjoy a better quality of life with their partners," he added.

A multi-disciplinary approach is recommended for men with suboptimal erection hardness. In general, men do not have scheduled periodic health examinations compared to women who undergo annual check-ups such as Pap smear.