Multiple sclerosis tied to sexual dysfunction in women
Women with multiple sclerosis (MS) are at an elevated risk of sexual dysfunction, reports a recent meta-analysis.
After applying the selection criteria, nine studies were eligible for inclusion. The resulting overall sample size was 1,458 women (mean age range 29.15–45.89 years), of whom 826 were MS patients, with mean disease durations ranging from 2.7–16.51 years.
Five studies provided the number of patients with MS and the number of controls. A pooled analysis revealed that the risk of female sexual dysfunction was almost twice that in MS patients than in controls (relative risk, 1.87; 95 percent CI, 1.25–2.78; p=0.002).
In comparison, the four remaining studies reported scores in the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI). A meta-analysis showed significantly lower scores in women with MS (standardized mean difference [SMD], –2.41; –3.87 to –0.96; p=0.017).
Because heterogeneity was significant in both analyses (p<0.001 and p=0.001, respectively), researchers performed a subgroup analysis based on age. They found that the risk of sexual dysfunction was higher in women with MS at least 40 years of age (RR, 1.94; 1.23–3.05; p=0.004) but not younger (RR, 1.64; 0.91–2.95; p=0.1).
Similar trends were obtained regarding FSFI, with scores being lower in MS patients aged ≥40 years (SMD, –2.95; –3.58 to –2.32) than in those <40 years (SMD, –2.23; –3.86 to –0.59).
Another subgroup analysis according to disease duration showed a higher risk of sexual dysfunction in those with MS duration <10 years (RR, 2.45; 1.1–5.37; p=0.028; >10 years: RR, 2.51; 0.56–11.19; p=0.228), but FSFI scores were worse in women with longer disease duration (>10 years: SMD, –5.43; –6.48 to –4.37; p<0.001; <10 years: SMD, –1.49; –2.61 to –0.36; p=0.009).
The findings of the present study indicate that there is a need for better-quality studies with stringent controls and larger samples, said researchers.