Sexual dysfunction in pre-menopausal diabetic women: Clinical, metabolic, psychological, cardiovascular, and neurophysiologic correlates

Donatella Cortelazzi, Annamaria Marconi, Marco Guazzi, Maurizio Cristina, Barbara Zecchini, Annamaria Veronelli, Claudio Cattalini, Alessandro Innocenti, Giovanna Bosco, Antonio E. Pontiroli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An increased prevalence of female sexual dysfunction (FSD) has been reported in women with diabetes mellitus (DM). Our aim was to evaluate correlates (psychological, cardiovascular, and neurophysiologic) of FSD in DM women without chronic diabetic complications. Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Michigan Diabetic Neuropathy Index (DNI), and the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy (SDN) questionnaires, metabolic variables, endothelial vascular function (flow-mediated dilation, FMD), echocardiography, and electromyography were studied. 109 pre-menopausal women (18-50 years) [48 with DM (14 type 1 DM, 34 type 2 DM, duration 12.6 ± 1.91 years), and 61 healthy women] received the above questionnaires; physical activity, smoking habits, parity, BMI, waist circumference, HOMA-IR index, fibrinogen, cholesterol (total, HDL, LDL), triglycerides, HbA1c, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, total testosterone, and estradiol were measured; echocardiography, assessment of intima-media thickness (IMT), FMD, ECG (heart rate and Qtc, indexes of sympathetic activity), and electromyography were performed. FSFI total score and score for arousal, lubrication, and orgasm domains were lower in DM women than in controls (P <0.05); DM women had higher BDI, Doppler A wave peak velocity, DNI, and SDN score (P <0.001 to P <0.04). Doppler E wave peak velocity, peroneal, posterior tibial and sural nerves conduction velocity and amplitude were lower in diabetic women than in controls (P <0.05 to P <0.001). FSFI score was positively correlated with physical activity, Doppler E wave peak velocity, and peroneal nerve amplitude and negatively with BDI, parity, IMT, SDN, and HbA1c (P <0.05 to P <0.001). At stepwise regression, SDN score (negatively) and Doppler E wave peak velocity (positively) predicted FSFI score (r = 507, P <0.001). In conclusion, cardiovascular and neurological impairments are associated with FSD in diabetic women. Follow-up studies are required to evaluate sexual dysfunction as a risk factor for future cardiovascular or neurological events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)911-917
Number of pages7
JournalActa Diabetologica
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Cardiovascular risk
  • Depression
  • Electromyography
  • Flow-mediated dilation
  • Neurological risk
  • Sexual dysfunction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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