Editor's Commentary - Prevalence and correlates of sexual dysfunction among women with bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis

BERKELEY, CA (UroToday.com) -

Sexual Dysfunction Major Component of IC/BPS Syndrome

Sexual dysfunction issues have been reported among women with BPS/IC and can contribute to a reduced quality of life. Deep dyspareunia, symptomatic flares after sexual intercourse, and decreased sexual desire, arousal, and orgasm frequency have all been problematic. Representative samples of the United States or specific areas of the United States have suggested that about 40% of women in the general population have reported at least one symptom of sexual dysfunction.

Research has found significantly worse sexual functioning among patients with BPS/IC than among the general population or age-matched controls for several different sexual functioning domains. As a part of the RAND Interstitial Cystitis Epidemiology Study, Laura Bogart and colleagues from Santa Monica, California and Ann Arbor, Michigan conducted a probability sample survey of women in US households. After identifying women with BPS/IC symptoms using symptom reports, they assessed the presence of sexual dysfunction symptoms and medical help-seeking for the dysfunction.

One hundred forty-six thousand two hundred thirty-one households with telephones were screened to identify those with a woman 18 years or older, with bladder symptoms or who had a reported diagnosis of BPS/IC. A total of fourteen hundred sixty-nine women met the criteria for BPS/IC symptoms and completed a 1 hour telephone interview. Ninety-eight percent of the population with symptoms suggestive of BPS/IC had had sexual intercourse. Of those with a current partner, 88% had at least one sexual dysfunction symptom in the previous 4 weeks. Bladder pain during and/or after sex was the most prevalent symptom, and was experienced by about two-thirds of the women. A low libido was reported by 65% in the month before the survey among those with a current partner. Only one quarter of those with sexual dysfunction had sought medical help for the symptom.

BPS/IC symptom severity was associated with both general sexual dysfunction and BPS/IC-specific sexual dysfunction and the latter symptoms correlated with severity of BPS/IC. Other predictors of BPS/IC-specific sexual dysfunction included being younger, depression, and perceiving worse general health.

This is one of many publications we expect from this superb and unmatched NIDDK-sponsored comprehensive epidemiology study on BPS/IC which will help to broaden our knowledge base considerably.

Bogart LM, Suttorp MJ, Elliott MN, Clemens JQ, Berry SH

Urology. 2011 Mar;77(3):576-80

PubMed Abstract
PMID: 21215432

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