What has happened to the Italian stallion? Study shows the men of Italy are losing their libido

Visits to sexologists in Italy are up 15 per cent in the past four years

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The Independent Online

The legendary Italian stallion appears to be losing his libido. More and more men in the birthplace of Valentino prefer a book at bedtime rather than a passionate end to the day, according to a new study.

Visits to sexologists in Italy are up 15 per cent in the past four years says the Institute of Clinical Sexuality in Rome. And the number of men seeking help for loss of libido has soared 40 per cent in the same period, the figures show. La Repubblica described events as “the end of one of the last taboos” as men lead the way in getting expert help in dealing with sexual problems.

Dr Roberta Rossi of the Sexuality Institute said: “Ten years ago our clients were predominantly women. Then men started to come – those who began to realise that Viagra could resolve certain problems but not a loss of desire. Drugs like Viagara have an effect on erections but not on libido.”

She added that researchers were still trying to explain falling male libido in both biological and psychological terms. She said, however, that loss of desire in men was usually accompanied by social problems, sometimes due to their inability to adjust to “changing roles in their relations with women”. She said: “Until 10 or 15 years ago it was the men who wanted sex. That’s not the case any more.”

And it’s not just older men who are experiencing problems. Italian sex experts say that couples in their forties, or younger, are having serious problems, particularly those involving loss of male libido. But the changing male-female role in society is not the only factor that has been linked to such sexual problems in Italian men .

As this protester at a rally for greater dignity for women showed, Italan men don’t always conform to stereotype (Getty)

In March 2011 another study, involving 28,000 people, suggested that more and more young Italian men were suffering from “sexual anorexia” and were unable to get erections due to excessive internet porn use that started in their mid-teens.

After their sexuality developed in a manner largely divorced from real-life relationships deleterious effects emerged, said Carlo Foresta, head of the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine. “It starts with less reaction to porn sites, then there is a general drop in libido and in the end it becomes impossible to get an erection,” he said. He added, however, that the condition was reversible.

And while diminutive leaders such as Benito Mussolini and Silvio Berlusconi might have helped create an Italian reputation for gargantuan sexual appetites and the equipment to back them up, other evidence suggests that Italian men are less sure of their sexual prowess than is commonly believed.

Last year, one of Italy’s top clinics specialising in penis enlargement revealed that the number of men seeking surgical assistance was rising 25 per cent every year. “The demand for these operations is growing constantly,” said Dr Alessandro Littara, director of the Centre for Sexual Medicine in Milan. “In the past year alone, we did 300 operations on men. It’s usually to make the penis thicker, but there are quite a few who want it longer and sometimes both.”

“I call it changing-room syndrome,” added Dr Littara. “With everyone seeing images of the body the whole time these days, men are more aware and worried about their bodies.”

As more evidence emerges on the Italian male’s surprising problem, sex experts are doing all they can to help. In January, Rome’s Tor Vergata University is even staging a “week of sexual wellbeing”.