Sexual activity and functioning in female scleroderma patients.
OBJECTIVE: Few studies exist on sexual activity and functioning in female patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc, scleroderma). We studied the patient-reported impact of SSc on sexual functioning among female patients. METHODS: 101 SSc patients completed the Short Form-36 (SF-36), the Female Sexual Functioning Index (FSFI) and the Female Sexual Function in Scleroderma (FSFS) questionnaires. RESULTS: Sixty patients reported being sexually active (59.4%). Reasons for sexual inactivity included lack of a partner (36.6%), personal choice (31.7%), and health status of the respondent's partner (19.5%). Only 7 subjects (17%) listed scleroderma as the primary reason for sexual inactivity. The mean FSFI score in the sexually active population was 24.9 (SD=6.7, range = 4.5-34.8) which is significantly lower than the mean score of 30.5 reported for the general population. Sexual functioning was significantly correlated with the Mental Component Score of the SF-36 (r=0.54, p<0.001) but surprisingly not with the Physical Component Score of the SF-36, age, and disease classification or duration. Several scleroderma-related problems including fatigue, body pain, vaginal dryness, and vaginal discomfort were cited as contributing to sexual difficulties. CONCLUSION: Women with scleroderma do remain sexually active overall in spite of several disease-related physical and psychological difficulties. Many of their problems are amenable to health interventions and should be addressed during health care visits.
Impens, AJ; Rothman, J; Schiopu, E; Cole, JC; Dang, J; Gendrano, N; Rosen, RC; Seibold, JR
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