Objectives: To assess the impact of stress and workload on sexual health and quality of life (QOL) of the medical residents in training.
Design and subjects: A total of 339 male and female medical residents from 11 specialties were surveyed. Level of stress, sexual health and QOL were measured using validated questionnaires.
Results: Overall, 49% of the female and 11% of male residents had sexual dysfunction, and 47% and 34% respectively indicated being very to mostly dissatisfied with their sexual life. Both the frequency of sexual activity and quality of relationship with partner decreased during residency compared with the time immediately prior to residency. This decline was irrespective of gender, specialty or year of residency. A majority of residents (75% of women and 54% of men) were identified to be at high levels of stress using a validated questionnaire. In women, stress negatively influenced most domains of sexual health including desire, arousal and satisfaction; in men, satisfaction was significantly affected by high levels of stress. Long hours of work (> 70 h per week) impacted sexual health less profoundly than did stress. Among both male and female residents, QOL was significantly lower among residents who experienced sexual dysfunction and dissatisfaction compared with those with normal sexual functioning.
Conclusions: Our results highlight the importance of stress-management efforts in residency programmes and provide evidence that limiting work hours alone may not lead to significant improvement in sexual health and QOL during residency.