Hypoactive sexual desire disorder in menopausal women: a survey of Western European women

Lorraine Dennerstein, Patricia Koochaki, Ian Barton, Alessandra Graziottin
Journal of Sexual Medicine 2006, 3 (2): 212-22

INTRODUCTION: The prevalence of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in menopausal women and the frequency of sexual activity, sexual behavior, and relationship or sexual satisfaction associated with HSDD have not been studied using validated instruments to identify women with HSDD.

AIMS: To determine: (i) the prevalence of HSDD among women who have undergone hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy (surgical menopause) with that of premenopausal or naturally menopausal women; (ii) the relationship between low sexual desire and sexual activity and behavior; and (iii) the relationship between low sexual desire and sexual or partner relationship satisfaction.

METHODS: Cross-sectional survey of 2,467 European women aged 20-70 years, resident in France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Measures were the Profile of Female Sexual Function (PFSF), Personal Distress Scale (PDS), and a sexual activities measure.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Clinically derived cutoff scores for the desire domain of the PFSF and the PDS were used, sequentially, to classify women as having low sexual desire and to further classify these women with low desire as distressed or nondistressed. Thus, women with HSDD had low sexual desire and were distressed by their low desire. The analysis population included 1,356 women who had current sexual partners and were surgically menopausal, regularly menstruating, or naturally postmenopausal.

RESULTS: A greater proportion of surgically menopausal women had low sexual desire compared with premenopausal or naturally menopausal women (odds ratio [OR] = 1.4; confidence interval [CI] = 1.1, 1.9; P = 0.02). Surgically menopausal women were more likely to have HSDD than premenopausal or naturally menopausal women (OR = 2.1; CI = 1.4, 3.4; P = 0.001). Sexual desire scores and sexual arousal, orgasm, and sexual pleasure were highly correlated (P < 0.001), demonstrating that low sexual desire is frequently associated with decreased functioning in other aspects of sexual response. Women with low sexual desire were less likely to engage in sexual activity and more likely to be dissatisfied with their sex life and partner relationship than women with normal desire (P < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Surgically menopausal women are at increased risk for HSDD. HSDD is associated with diminished sexual and partner relationship satisfaction and negative emotional states.

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