Half of Women with Fibromyalgia Experience Sexual Dysfunction

MARCH 02, 2016
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick
rheumatology, pain management, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, sexual health, sexual dysfunctionFibromyalgia and sexual dysfunction are both conditions that affect more women than men; and now it looks like those who have the former are more likely to have the latter – especially if they have depression or anxiety.

While many studies have examined the association between fibromyalgia and sexual dysfunction, this is the first one to evaluate the two in connection with mood, anxiety, and personality disorders. Researchers from several institutions in Turkey found strong correlations between the conditions, as described in Dove Medical Press.

The study’s cohort consisted of 96 women with fibromyalgia and 94 healthy women. All participants were married, at least 18 years old, and hadn’t taken any psychotropic drugs (like antidepressants) in the previous three months. Sexual dysfunction was found in 50 patients with fibromyalgia (52.1%). The most common were lack of sexual desire in 36 of them (37.5%) and arousal disorder in another 10 (10.4%). Impaired sexual function can be cause by various factors including pain, fatigue, stiffness, negative body image, drug use, sexual abuse, and functional disorders.

So how does sexual dysfunction in women with fibromyalgia correlate with mood disorders?

Based on the SCID-I interview, psychiatric disorders were significantly more common in patients with fibromyalgia than healthy controls (46.9% and 5.3%, respectively). Out of the 96 patients with fibromyalgia:
  • 27 patients (28.1%) had a mood disorder
  • 18 patients (18.8%) had an anxiety disorder
  • 13 patients (13.5%) had a personality disorder
The most common conditions were major depression in 25 patients (26%) and generalized anxiety disorder in eight patients (8.3%). “One of the most important findings from our study is that sexual dysfunction was significantly more frequent in patients with fibromyalgia and any mood or anxiety disorder,” the authors wrote, “and that 63% [29 participants] of patients with fibromyalgia and sexual dysfunction had a mood or anxiety disorder.”

The team specified that “pain rather than a mood disorder, played a greater role in the etiology of sexual dysfunction in patients with fibromyalgia” – which suggests that controlling pain can help improve impaired sexual function.

Also on MD Magazine >>> Acupuncture Can Relieve Fibromyalgia Pain, If It’s Tailored Per Patient

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