Evaluation of sexual dysfunction in women with rheumatoid arthritis: a controlled study

J Sex Med. 2012 Oct;9(10):2664-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02882.x. Epub 2012 Aug 20.


Objective: To evaluate sexual function in women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and compare them with healthy controls.

Materials and methods: Ninety-five patients with RA and 108 healthy controls were included in the study. Depression levels and sexual functions of all participants were evaluated by the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Index of Female Sexual Function (IFSF), respectively. Morning stiffness in women with RA, pain (Visual Analog Scale--VAS), disability rate (Health Assessment Questionnaire--HAQ), and disease activity score (DAS-28) were defined.

Results: Total IFSF and mean of IFSF subgroup scores and significance of sexual life score were lower in patients with RA than controls, whereas mean BDI score was higher. The mean of the total IFSF scores was significantly lower in patients with RA with BDI≥17 than that of patients with BDI<17. The mean of the total IFSF score decreased as disease severity increased. There was a strong negative correlation between total IFSF and DAS-28 scores, a moderate negative correlation between total IFSF score and HAQ, BDI, VAS score, age, and morning stiffness, and weak negative correlation between total IFSF and body mass index.

Conclusion: RA is observed to have negative effects on sexual functions of women. Presence of depressive symptoms with RA and increased disease severity increase the degree of sexual dysfunction. Women patients with RA should also be asked about their sexual lives while being evaluated.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult