Prevalence and Psychopathological Determinants of Sexual Dysfunction and Related Distress in Women With and Without Multiple Sclerosis

Giulia Gava, Matteo Visconti, Fabrizio Salvi, Ilaria Bartolomei, Renato Seracchioli, Maria Cristina Meriggiola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Sexual dysfunction (SD) is common but still underdiagnosed in women with multiple sclerosis (MS); in fact, the lack of a consistent use of validated diagnostic tools makes the prevalence of SD and related distress difficult to define precisely. Aim: To assess the prevalence of SD in Italian women with MS compared with age-matched healthy control subjects (HC) and the association with demographic, psychological, and MS-related characteristics. Methods: The Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) and the Female Sexual Distress Scale were administered to 153 women with MS and 153 HC. Demographic, gynecologic, and neurologic data were obtained. Disability was assessed using the Expanded Disability Status Scale. Psychological symptoms were evaluated in MS patients with Profile of Mood State and the Beck Depression Inventory II. Main Outcomes Measures: Prevalence of SD and sexual distress in women with MS compared with HC. Results: Among women sexually active in the last month, we found an increased prevalence of SD in MS patients compared with HC subjects (42.0% vs 16.0%, P = .0001). The prevalence of dysfunctional FSFI global scores (<26.55) was higher in women with MS compared with HC (49.6% vs 33.6%, P = .014). In the MS group, the prevalence of SD was similar between pre- and post-menopausal women. Both premenopausal and postmenopausal MS women presented a greater prevalence of SD if compared with the premenopausal and postmenopausal HC groups (30/79 [37.9%] vs. 5/74 [6.8%], P = .0001 and 20/40 [50.0%] vs 16/57 [28.1%], P = .03, respectively). A negative correlation was observed between the FSFI global score and age and Expanded Disability Status Scale. Depressive symptoms were more common in women with MS and SD than in those without. Clinical Implications: This study suggests that sexual function investigation should always be a standard part of the consultation with healthcare professionals for MS. Strength & Limitations: The strength of this study was the comparison with an age-matched healthy control group and the use of validated questionnaires to assess both sexual function and sexual distress. Larger and multicenter studies may further support our findings. Conclusion: In our cohort, the prevalence of SD and sexual distress was higher in women with MS compared to the HC group. Age, disability, and depressive symptoms were associated with increased SD. Gava G, Visconti M, Salvi F, et al. Prevalence and Psychopathological Determinants of Sexual Dysfunction and Related Distress in Women With and Without Multiple Sclerosis. J Sex Med 2019;16:833–842.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)833-842
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Volume16
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

Keywords

  • Disability
  • Female Sexual Dysfunction
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Sexual Function
  • Sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Urology

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