While prevalent, sexual problems in women not always associated with distress

Oct 31, 2008

The largest such study ever published finds that, while about 40 percent of women surveyed report having sexual problems, only 12 percent indicate that those issues are a source of significant personal distress. The report led by a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) physician appears in the November issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

"Sexual problems are common in women, but problems associated with personal distress, those which are truly bothersome and affect a woman's quality of life, are much less frequent." says Jan Shifren, MD, of the MGH Obstetrics and Gynecology Service, who led the study. "For a sexual concern to be considered a medical problem, it must be associated with distress, so it's important to assess this in both research studies and patient care."

Several studies and surveys of sexual problems in women have found problems with low desire, diminished arousal or difficulties with orgasm in approximately 40 percent of women, but few of those have asked about levels of distress associated with those problems. The current study surveyed 32,000 women aged 18 to over 100 from across the U.S. using a well-established survey of sexual function supplemented by a validated measure of a woman's distress related to her sex life – including feelings of anger, guilt, frustration, and worry.

Some level of sexual problem was reported in 43 percent of respondents – with 39 percent reporting low levels of desire, 26 percent problems with arousal and 21 percent difficulties with orgasm. But distress related to any of these problems was reported by only 12 percent of study participants. Although the prevalence of sexual problems was highest in women over 65, that group reported the lowest levels of distress, while distress was reported most frequently in women aged 45 to 64. The youngest group – those from 18 to 44 – had lower levels of both problems and distress. Women with depression were more than twice as likely to report distress over any type of sexual problem as those not suffering from depression.

"Although sexual problems were very common in women over age 65, these problems often weren't associated with distress," Shifren says. "Several factors could be behind the lower levels of distress in the oldest group. If their partners also have low desire, it may not be looked on as a problem, or additional health issues could be of greater concern.

"While distressing sexual problems are much less common in women than sexual problems overall, they still affect approximately one in eight adult women," she adds. "As part of a thorough health assessment, it's important that health care providers ask their female patients if they have sexual concerns and if those problems are associated with distress. Although this study did not examine treatments for sexual problems, effective options are available – including relationship counseling, treatment of associated medical conditions and sex therapy." Shifren is an associate professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School.

Source: Massachusetts General Hospital

Explore further: Can YouTube save your life?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Even fact will not change first impressions

Feb 14, 2014

Knowledge is power, yet new research suggests that a person's appearance alone can trump knowledge. First impressions are so powerful that they can override what we are told about people. A new study found that even when ...

Girls face 'sexting' threat from peers

May 16, 2012

A report commissioned by the NSPCC, conducted in collaboration with King’s College London, reveals the level that ‘sexting’ has reached among teenagers, with schoolgirls facing increasing pressure ...

WikiLeaks Julian Assange fights extradition

Jul 13, 2011

(AP) -- Lawyers for Julian Assange on Wednesday focused their fight against the WikiLeaks chief's extradition to Sweden on technicalities - trying to punch holes through the warrant seeking his arrest.

Recommended for you

Can YouTube save your life?

6 hours ago

Only a handful of CPR and basic life support (BLS) videos available on YouTube provide instructions which are consistent with recent health guidelines, according to a new study published in Emergency Medicine Australasia, the jo ...

Doctors frequently experience ethical dilemmas

7 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For physicians trying to balance various financial and time pressures, ethical dilemmas are common, according to an article published Aug. 7 in Medical Economics.

AMGA: Physician turnover still high in 2013

7 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For the second year running, physician turnover remains at the highest rate since 2005, according to a report published by the American Medical Group Association (AMGA).

Obese or overweight teens more likely to become smokers

8 hours ago

A study examining whether overweight or obese teens are at higher risk for substance abuse finds both good and bad news: weight status has no correlation with alcohol or marijuana use but is linked to regular ...

Taking preventive health care into community spaces

9 hours ago

A church. A city park. An office. These are not the typical settings for a medical checkup. But a new nationwide study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research shows that providing health services in ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

herpes_look
not rated yet Oct 31, 2008
But sexual problems in women at www.herpesfinder.com is related with hPv