Sexual activity and functioning in female scleroderma patients


Journal Article

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. © Copyright Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology 2009.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Impens, AJ; Rothman, J; Schiopu, E; Cole, JC; Dang, J; Gendrano, N; Rosen, RC; Seibold, JR

Published Date

  • November 9, 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 27 / 3 SUPPL. 54

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0392-856X

Citation Source

  • Scopus