When love hurts. A systematic review on the effects of surgical and pharmacological treatments for endometriosis on female sexual functioning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Endometriosis is associated with an increased risk of dyspareunia, therefore this chronic gynecologic disease should be considered as a major cause of sexual dysfunctions. The aims of this study were to review the literature on the effects of surgical and pharmacological treatments for endometriosis on female sexual functioning, and to provide suggestions for future treatment strategies. Material and methods: We followed the PRISMA guidelines to conduct this systematic review, which involved an electronic database search of studies on the association between endometriosis and sexuality published between 2000 and 2016. Results: As a result of the screening process, 22 studies were included in this systematic review. The 22 studies included were divided into two categories: (a) surgical intervention studies (n = 17), examining postoperative sexual outcomes of surgery for endometriosis; (b) pharmacological intervention studies (n = 5), evaluating the effects of pharmacological endometriosis treatments on sexual functioning. The studies considered showed that overall surgical and pharmacological interventions for endometriosis can lead to medium-/long-term improvement, but not necessarily to a definitive resolution of female sexual dysfunctions due to endometriosis. Conclusions: Sexual functioning is a multidimensional phenomenon and the ideal treatment for endometriosis-related sexual dysfunctions should be conducted by a multidisciplinary team that involves not only gynecologists, but also sexologists and psychologists/psychotherapists. Improving global sexual functioning, and not just reducing pain at intercourse, should be considered as a major clinical goal of endometriosis treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)668-687
JournalActa Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica
Volume96
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Dyspareunia
  • Endometriosis
  • Female sexuality
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sexual functioning
  • Sexual health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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