Prolapse or incontinence: what affects sexual function the most?

Swati Jha, Deepa Gopinath
International Urogynecology Journal 2016, 27 (4): 607-11

INTRODUCTION AND HYPOTHESIS: Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI) adversely affect sexual function in women. Comparative studies of the two subgroups are few and results are conflicting. The aim of this study was to compare the effect of POP and SUI on the sexual function of women undergoing surgery for these conditions.

METHODS: The study population comprised women with POP or SUI in a tertiary referral hospital in the UK. Women who underwent SUI surgery had no symptoms of POP and had urodynamically proven stress incontinence. Patients with POP had ≥ stage 2 prolapse, without bothersome urinary symptoms. Pre-operative data on sexual function were collected and compared using an electronic pelvic floor assessment questionnaire (ePAQ). The incidence of sexual dysfunction and comparison of symptoms in both groups were calculated using the Mann-Whitney U test.

RESULTS: Three hundred and forty-three women undergoing surgery for either SUI or POP were included. Patients were age-matched, with 184 undergoing SUI surgery (age range 33-77 years) and 159 POP surgery (age range 27-78 years; p = 0.869). The overall impact of POP and SUI was not significantly different in the two subgroups (p = 0.703). However, both patients (73 % vs 36 %; p = 0.00) and partners (50 % vs 24 %; p = 0.00) avoid intercourse significantly more frequently in cases with POP compared with SUI. This did not have a significant impact on quality of life.

CONCLUSIONS: The impact of bothersome SUI or POP on sexual function was found to be similar, but patient and partner avoidance in women with POP was greater than those with SUI.

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