INTRODUCTION: Studies on the prevalence of sexual dysfunction (SD) in multiple sclerosis (MS) have shown that 40% to 80% of women and 50% to 90% of men have had sexual complaints. Sexual function is often disregarded during consultation with healthcare professionals, and SD is frequently underdiagnosed. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of SD and its relationship to sociodemographic and disease-related factors, with regard to disability state, in a hospital cohort of MS patients, by using a semistructured interview.
METHODS: Of 130 screened outpatients, 87 met the inclusion criteria and completed the study. The mean age of the participants was 39.3 ± 8.3 years, with a disease duration of 8.3 ± 5.4 years and a mean Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score of 2.04 ± 0.19. Sexual function was evaluated by means of a semistructured interview, investigating a patient's 3 main life areas: sociodemographic information, illness perception, and sexuality.
RESULTS: Approximately 70% of the patients complained at least 1 SD (decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, premature or retarded ejaculation, painful penetration), and 22% of them reported the disorder as frequent. The disease duration was associated with lower satisfaction in sexual function, and lack of sexual interest was the most common problem having a negative correlation with EDSS.
CONCLUSIONS: Healthcare professionals involved in MS, should assess patients for SD. Further studies should be fostered to better quantify SD etiology, the degree of sexual impairment, and its impact on patients' quality of life to "overcome" this problem.
- Disabled Persons/psychology
- Multiple Sclerosis/complications
- Quality of Life
- Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological/epidemiology
- Surveys and Questionnaires