Objective: To explore the relationship between demographic and disease-related variables and the perceived effect of health status on sexual activity in patients with axial spondyloarthritis (ax-SpA).
Method: The study assessed 379 ax-SpA patients consecutively recruited from two rheumatology outpatient clinics. Data collection included information on demographics, markers and measures of ax-SpA disease, treatment, comorbidity, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) using the Short Form-36. The perceived effect of health status on sexual activity was assessed using question 15 in the HRQoL instrument 15D.
Results: The mean age of the patients was 45.6 years, 66.5% were men, 87.3% were human leucocyte antigen-B27 positive, and mean disease duration was 13.9 years. A total of 312 patients (82.3%) reported their health status to have no/little effect and 17.7% patients reported their health status to have a large negative effect on their sexual activity. In univariate analysis, increased body mass index (BMI), smoking, alcohol consumption, unemployed status, low physical activity, comorbidities, and higher disease activity (Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Questionnaire), impaired body movement and lower HRQoL were associated with a large effect on sexual activity. In adjusted analyses, only female gender, high BMI, current smoking, and low HRQoL showed significant associations.
Conclusion: Approximately 20% of ax-SpA patients reported a large negative effect on their sexual activity. Female gender, high BMI, current smoking, and reduced HRQoL were associated with health status having a large effect on sexual activity, whereas no measures reflecting ax-SpA disease showed an independent association.