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Translating Sexual Dysfunction

Does Language Impact Clinical Discussion of Painful Sex?

Eisenach, Natalie, MS*; Zoorob, Dani, MD; Nazir, Niaman, MD, MPH*; Pedraza, Ruth, MD*; Swan, Kimberly, MD*

Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery: November 26, 2018 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1097/SPV.0000000000000667
Original Article: PDF Only

Objectives Dyspareunia and sexual dysfunction are estimated to affect up to 22% and 43% of women, respectively. There is concern that these statistics do not depict the true prevalence and that these conditions are frequently undiagnosed and untreated. By 2060, Latinos will make up 30% of the total population in the United States. Because our patient population becomes more diverse, we need to ensure that our healthcare practices accommodate the changes.

Methods We surveyed a convenience sample of 107 English and 71 Spanish-speaking women, aged 18 to 45 years, at university-affiliated clinics to identify the prevalence of dyspareunia and sexual dysfunction within our community. In addition, we wanted to identify the rate that clinicians discuss painful sex with patients to identify whether language impacted communication. The surveys collected data on subjective reporting of pain with sex and objective identification of sexual dysfunction with the Female Sexual Function Index. Additional questions identified if subjects discussed pain with their clinician. These questions were analyzed between languages across all domains.

Results A greater prevalence of both dyspareunia and sexual dysfunction was measured in our study population compared with previous reports (37.79% and 54.71%, respectively). Spanish-speaking women had significantly lower self-reported dyspareunia (28.99%) but scored significantly lower on the Female Sexual Function Index, qualifying for sexual dysfunction (63.24%). Spanish speakers discussed painful sex significantly less compared with the English cohort, but the overall discussion rate was only 17.26%.

Conclusions These pilot data demonstrate a need for further research on language as a barrier to communication about sexual function in clinic.

From the *University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City, KS; and

University of Toledo Medical Center, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH.

Correspondence: Natalie Eisenach, MS, University of Kansas School of Medicine, 3901 Rainbow Blvd, Mailstop 1008, Kansas City, KS 66160. E-mail:

The authors have declared they have no conflicts of interest.

This study was supported by a Clinical and Translational Science Award grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences awarded to the University of Kansas for Frontiers: University of Kansas Clinical and Translational Science Institute # TL1TR002368.

The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or NCATS.

N.E. did the protocol/project development, data collection, data analysis, and manuscript writing/editing. D.Z., as a principal investigator, did the protocol/project development, data analysis, and manuscript writing/editing. N.N. did the data analysis. K.S. did the protocol/project development and data analysis. R.P., as a certified translator, did the data collection.

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