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Female sexual dysfunction in essential hypertension: a common problem being uncovered

Doumas, Michael; Tsiodras, Sotirios; Tsakiris, Alexandros; Douma, Stella; Chounta, Athina; Papadopoulos, Angelos; Kanellakopoulou, Kiriaki; Giamarellou, Helen

doi: 10.1097/01.hjh.0000251898.40002.5b
Original papers: Epidemiology

Objectives Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) is increasingly attracting more scientific and public interest, and represents a poorly investigated issue in patients with essential hypertension. We evaluated the prevalence of sexual dysfunction in hypertensive women compared with normotensive women according to age, hypertension severity, hypertension duration, and antihypertensive treatment.

Methods The study population consisted of consecutive, sexually active women attending an outpatient hypertension clinic. The Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI questionnaire) was used to evaluate FSD. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to evaluate predictors of FSD.

Results Four hundred and seventeen women were studied. From them, 216 women had arterial hypertension (136 treated, 80 untreated) and 201 were normotensive. Sexual dysfunction was found in 42.1% of hypertensive women compared with 19.4% of normotensive women (odds ratio, 3.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.9–4.7; P < 0.001). Systolic blood pressure levels were significantly related to FSFI score (r = −0.67, P < 0.001). Successful control of hypertension was related to lower prevalence of FSD. Increasing age (β = −0.187, P = 0.001), increasing systolic blood pressure (β = −0.687, P < 0.001), and β-blocker administration (β = −0.162, P = 0.001) were significant predictors of sexual dysfunction in this patient population.

Conclusions FSD is more prevalent in women with essential hypertension compared with women with normal blood pressure, and its prevalence declines with adequate blood pressure control. Adequate control of hypertension with medication not affecting sexual function can have a great impact on the quality of life of hypertensive patients. Physicians should recognize and properly manage FSD in hypertensive women.

Hypertension Outpatient Clinic, 4th Department of Internal Medicine, University of Athens, Attikon Hospital, Greece

Received 16 February, 2006

Revised 12 July, 2006

Accepted 14 July, 2006

Correspondence and requests for reprints to Michael Doumas, 46 Arda str, 68100 Alexandroupolis, Greece Tel: +30 694 700 600 1; fax: +30 25510 30450; e-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.