Cardiovascular Autonomic Neuropathy, Sexual Dysfunction, and Urinary Incontinence in Women With Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes Care. 2016 Sep;39(9):1587-93. doi: 10.2337/dc16-0059. Epub 2016 Jun 28.


Objective: This study evaluated associations among cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy (CAN), female sexual dysfunction (FSD), and urinary incontinence (UI) in women with type I diabetes mellitus (T1DM).

Research design and methods: We studied 580 women with T1DM in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial/Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications Study (DCCT/EDIC). CAN was defined as: 1) R-R variation <15 with deep breathing or 2) R-R variation of 15-19.9 plus Valsalva ratio ≤1.5 or a supine-to-standing drop of 10 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure. A Sandvik Severity Index of 3-12 defined UI, and a Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI-R) score ≥22.75 defined FSD. Multivariable models estimated associations among CAN, FSD, and UI.

Results: At EDIC year 17, FSD was observed in 41% of women and UI in 30%. No statistically significant associations were observed between measures of CAN at DCCT closeout and subsequent report of FSD or UI. At EDIC year 16/17, there was a 53% increased odds of having UI with a Valsalva ratio ≤1.5. At both EDIC year 13/14 and EDIC year 16/17, a 5-unit increase in R-R variation was associated with a 1.11 greater odds of having FSD.

Conclusions: In women with T1DM in the DCCT/EDIC, we found significant increased odds of FSD and UI with specific measures of CAN. In long-standing T1DM, CAN may predict development of FSD and may be a useful surrogate for generalized diabetic autonomic neuropathy.

Trial registration: NCT00360815 NCT00360893.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cardiovascular System / innervation*
  • Diabetes Complications / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / epidemiology*
  • Urinary Incontinence / epidemiology*
  • Valsalva Maneuver

Associated data