Prevalence of sexual dysfunction among postmenopausal women with and without metabolic syndrome

J Sex Med. 2012 Feb;9(2):434-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02517.x. Epub 2011 Oct 24.


Introduction: The metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a multifactorial disease characterized by the co-occurrence of impaired glucose tolerance/diabetes, central obesity, high levels of triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein, and hypertension. Its prevalence is higher in menopausal women. We, and others, have recently shown that female sexual dysfunction (FSD) affects menopausal women. Whether the presence of MetS may be linked to a higher risk of FSD in menopausal women is unknown.

The aims of our study were: (i) to evaluate the prevalence of FSD in women with MetS (based on National Cholesterol Education program-Adult Treatment Panel III 2009 criteria) in comparison with healthy controls and (ii) to evaluate the influence of singular components of MetS on female sexual function.

Methods: The Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) questionnaire, the Female Sexual Distress Scale (FSDS), and The Middlesex Hospital Questionnaire were administered to 103 postmenopausal women with MetS and 105 healthy postmenopausal controls (HC). Female sexuality was defined as dysfunctional when FSFI score was <23 and FSDS was >15.

Main outcome measures: FSFI and FSDS were completed by women with and without MetS.

Results: The prevalence of women with sexual dysfunction was higher in MetS women than HC (39/103 [37.9%] vs. 20/105 [19%], P = 0.003). The prevalence of both pathological scores in every FSFI domain and FSDS score was higher in MetS women than HC. The logistic regression, considering age and the length of relationship as a common starting point, shows that higher levels of triglycerides are linked to a higher risk of presenting FSD (odds ratio = 2.007 95% confidence interval [1.033-3.901]) in the whole population.

Conclusions: Our preliminary results suggest that prevalence of FSD is higher in women with MetS in comparison with healthy controls. Higher levels of triglycerides are linked to a higher risk of presenting FSD.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / complications*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / epidemiology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / complications*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires