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Revista do Colégio Brasileiro de Cirurgiões

Print version ISSN 0100-6991

Rev. Col. Bras. Cir. vol.40 no.3 Rio de Janeiro May/June 2013

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-69912013000300006 

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

 

Incidence of sexual dysfunction in patients with obesity and overweight

 

 

Benedito Martins e Silva, TCBC-ALI; Lerika Moreira RêgoII; Márcio Almeida GalvãoII; Telma Maria de Menezes Toledo FlorêncioIII; Jairo Calado CavalcanteIV

IAssociate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, UFAL
IIMedical School Graduate, UFAL
IIIProfessor, School of Nutrition, UFAL
IVAssistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics, UFAL

Correspondence

 

 


ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To assess the prevalence of sexual dysfunction in obese and overweight patients treated at the Professor Alberto Antunes University Hospital (HUPAA - UFAL).
METHODS: This is a descriptive study. The sample consisted of overweight or obese females. Anthropometric data were collected for assessment of body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC). In all subjects we measured the levels of blood glucose, total cholesterol and triglycerides. We applied a Portuguese-validated version of the Female Sexual Function Index (FSDI), which assesses sexual response as for desire, arousal, vaginal lubrication, orgasm, sexual satisfaction and pain. The total score is the sum of scores for each domain multiplied by the corresponding factor and can vary from '2 'to '36', a total score less than or equal to '26 ' being considered risky for sexual dysfunction.
RESULTS: We evaluated 23 women with a mean age of 44, where 73.9% were obese and 82.6% had a highly increased risk for metabolic complications (WC e" 88cm). The increased risk for sexual dysfunction was present in 78.3% of the interviewees, causing biopsychosocial impairment. Hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidemia were present in 33.3%, 22.2% and 61.1%, respectively, of patients at risk for sexual dysfunction.
CONCLUSION: The analysis of the results demonstrates the need for better research and attention of physicians to patients with obesity or overweight.

Key words: Sexuality. Sexual dysfunction, physiological. Female. Obesity. Overweight.


 

 

INTRODUCTION

Abdominal obesity (android or central obesity) is characterized by deposition of adipose tissue in the abdominal region and is considered a risk factor for various morbidities, such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), hypertension (HT), diabetes mellitus (DM), hypercholesterolemia, and some forms of cancer, in addition to representing different risk when compared to other forms of body fat distribution 1.

A survey conducted by the Brazilian Ministry of Health in 2009 showed that the frequency of overweight and obesity increased in men and women. Currently, 13.9% of adults are obese, with the rate higher among women (14%) than among men (13.7%), while 46.6% of Brazilian adults are overweight, with higher rate among men (51%) than among women (42.3%) 2.

In this context, obesity, similar to other cardiovascular risk factors, is associated with the development of male and female sexual dysfunctions resulting from the deleterious effects on vascular and endothelial functions 3.

Sexual dysfunctions are common among women, affecting 20-50% of them 4. An American study has shown that these disorders are more frequent in women (43%) than in men (31%) and are related to demographic characteristics such as age and educational level 5. In Portugal, there was a prevalence of 40.4% 6, and in Brazil, 49% of women reported at least one sexual dysfunction 4,7.

Female sexual disorders involve aspects such as sexual desire, arousal, orgasm, and dyspareunia. The syndromes of clitoral and vaginal vascular insufficiency are directly related to decreased genital blood flow secondary to atherosclerosis of the hypogastric and pudendal arteries. Although a variety of medical and psychogenic disorders result in decreased clitoral engorgement, vascular insufficiency is a major cause of sexual dysfunction3.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the incidence of sexual dysfunction in women with obesity and overweight treated at the Professor Alberto Antunes University Hospital, Federal University of Alagoas (HUPAA - UFAL).

 

METHODS

This was a cross-sectional study conducted between March and October 2010 that evaluated female patients treated at outpatient basis at Nutrition clinic of Professor Alberto Antunes University Hospital - HUPAA / UFAL.

The study was approved by the Ethics in Research Committee of the Federal University of Alagoas, number 000440/2010-98.

All patients were informed about the questionnaire they would answer and signed an informed consent form.

We included women aged over 30 years with body mass index (BMI) e" 25Kg/m2. Patients undergoing treatment for current or prior sexual dysfunction or who had undergone radio and / or chemotherapy treatment were excluded.

Female sexual function was analyzed using the Female Sexual Function Index (FSDI). A validated Portuguese version was applied 8, which is a brief, self-administered questionnaire and assesses female sexual response as for sexual desire, sexual arousal, vaginal lubrication, orgasm, sexual satisfaction and pain.

The questionnaire consists of 19 questions and presents scores on each component. The response options are scored between '0 'and '5', increasingly, except in matters of pain, in which the score is inverted. The total score is the sum of scores for each domain multiplied by the corresponding factor and can vary from '2 'to '36', a total score £ 26 being considering risky for sexual dysfunction (Table 1).

A survey of sexual function was followed by the acquisition of anthropometric data to assess body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC). The cutoff points, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) are, for women: WC equal to or greater than 80 cm, which means an increased risk for metabolic complications; and WC equal to or greater than 88cm, which reflects a highly increased risk for metabolic complications.

BMI was calculated by dividing weight (kg) by the square of height (m2), considering normal values from 20 to 24.9 kg/m2, overweight from 25 to 29.9 kg/m2 and obesity e" 30Kg/m2.

In all subjects the levels of blood glucose, total cholesterol and triglycerides were assessed.

 

RESULTS

We evaluated 23 women with a mean age of 44 years, range 30-65, and BMI e" 25Kg/m2. Of these, 73.9% were obese and 82.6% had a highly increased risk for metabolic complications (WC e" 88 cm).

The prevalence of increased risk of sexual dysfunction was 78.3% of the patients. The average total FSDI score was 18.3, ranging from 3.2 to 34.2.

The most frequently found sexual dysfunctions in the study were the lack of desire (with a mean score of 2.8) and lack of arousal (mean score 2.4), while satisfaction and lubrication had the highest mean scores, of 3.5 and 3.3, respectively (Figure 1).

 

 

Among the patients with increased risk for sexual dysfunction (with a total score e" 26), all had at least one risk factor for sexual dysfunction, including high blood pressure (HT), diabetes mellitus (DM), dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and smoking. Dyslipidemia and hypertension had a higher prevalence, with 61.1% and 33.3%, respectively (Figure 2).

 

 

DISCUSSION

Female sexual dysfunction has a multifactorial etiology, has a high prevalence and is rarely investigated by physicians, either due to embarrassment or to ignorance about the research methods. Although there are psychosocial factors and marital relationship difficulties that interfere with sexual response, there is evidence of a complex pathophysiology and, just recently, there has been a greater focus on women's sexual problems 9-12. It is noteworthy that overweight and obesity are considered risk factors for male sexual dysfunction; the same relationship regarding sexual function in women remains unclear, though 13.

In this study, the prevalence of increased risk for sexual dysfunction was 78.3%, with an average total score of 18.3. These indices were comparable to the ones of another study, in which the frequency in patients with obesity and overweight was 86% and the mean total FSDI score was 22.1 13.

The most frequent alterations were lack of desire and lack of arousal, with mean scores of 2.8 and 2.4, respectively. Desire and arousal disorders are among the most common problems in clinical practice, because there is a high correlation between both14. Nevertheless, in a survey of the Brazilian population 9, the main disorders are the absence of orgasm and lack of sexual desire, which is considered the most common sexual disorder among women.

Few studies have evaluated the relationship between FSDI and body weight. A search using the FSDI performed with obese patients and a control group showed that there is no statistically significant relationship between obesity and sexual dysfunction, which was present in 50 and 41% of obese patients and in the control group, respectively 13,15.

All patients with increased risk for sexual dysfunction had at least one risk factor for the disorder, with a predominance of dyslipidemia (61.1%) and hypertension (33.3%). Risk factors for sexual disorders can be organic, psychosocial and sociodemographic, and affect women in different stages of life. Epidemiological studies show a correlation of dysfunction with hypertension, diabetes, hormonal deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders, alcoholism, smoking and use of drugs and medicines 16.

The investigation of sexual dysfunction in women with metabolic syndrome compared with a control group showed that patients with metabolic syndrome have a higher prevalence of sexual dysfunction, with reduced average FSDI total score (23.2), and satisfaction index (3.5) when compared to FSDI (30.1) and satisfaction index (4.7) in the control group. However, more research is needed to determine the impact of metabolic syndrome on female sexual function 11.

In this context, the indices relating to sexual dysfunctions are diverse according to the methods of assessment (individual interview or questionnaire), to the population groups assessed and to diagnostic definitions 9,10.

The change in lifestyle is an effective strategy to reduce the prevalence of sexual dysfunction in obese women, this way improving the endothelial function 17. Although obesity does not appear to represent one of the major contributing factors, it affects various aspects of sexuality, and the result analysis shows the need for better research and attention of physicians for patients with obesity and overweight.

 

REFERENCES

1. Olinto MTA, Nácul LC, Dias-da-Costa JS, Gigante DP, Menezes AMB, Macedo S. Níveis de intervenção para obesidade abdominal: prevalência e fatores associados. Cad Saúde Pública. 2006;22(6):1207-15.         [ Links ]

2. Ministério da Saúde (Brasil), Secretaria de Vigilância em Saúde, Secretaria de Gestão Estratégica e Participativa. Vigitel Brasil 2009: vigilância de fatores de risco e proteção para doenças crônicas por inquérito telefônico. Brasília: Ministério da Saúde, 2010.         [ Links ]

3. Berman JR, Bassuk J. Physiology and pathophysiology of female sexual function and dysfunction. World J Urol. 2002;20(2):111-8.         [ Links ]

4. Leite APL, Moura EA, Campos AAS, Mattar R, Souza E, Camano L. Validação do Índice da Função Sexual Feminina em grávidas brasileiras. Rev Bras Ginecol Obstet. 2007;29(8):396-401.         [ Links ]

5. Laumann EO, Paik A, Rosen RC. Sexual dysfunction in the United States: prevalence and predictors. JAMA. 1999;281(6):537-44.         [ Links ]

6. Nobre PJ, Pinto-Gouveia J, Gomes FA. Prevalence and comorbidity of sexual dysfunctions in a Portuguese clinical sample. J Sex Marital Ther. 2006;32(2):173-82.         [ Links ]

7. Abdo CH, Oliveira WN Jr, Moreira ED Jr, Fittipaldi JA. Prevalence of sexual dysfunctions and correlated conditions in a sample of Brazilian women: results of the Brazilian study on sexual behavior (BSSB). Int J Impot Res. 2004;16(2):160-6.         [ Links ]

8. Pacagnella RC, Vieira EM, Rodrigues Jr OM, Souza C. Adaptação transcultural do Female Sexual Function Index. Cad Saúde Pública. 2008;24(2):416-26.         [ Links ]

9. Abdo CHN, Oliveira Jr WM, Moreira ED, Fittipaldi JAS. Perfil sexual da população brasileira: resultados do Estudo do Comportamento Sexual (ECOS) do Brasileiro. RBM rev bras med. 2002;59(4):250-7.         [ Links ]

10. Prado DS, Mota VPLP, Lima TIA. Prevalência de disfunção sexual em dois grupos de mulheres de diferentes níveis socioeconômicos. Rev Bras Ginecol Obstet. 2010;32(3):139-43.         [ Links ]

11. Esposito K, Ciotola M, Marfella R, Di Tommaso D, Cobellis L, Giugliano D. The metabolic syndrome: a cause of sexual dysfunction in women. Int J Impot Res. 2005;17(3):224-6.         [ Links ]

12. Lara LAS, Silva ACJSR, Romão APMS, Junqueira FRR. Abordagem das disfunções sexuais femininas. Rev Bras Ginecol e Obstet. 2008;30(6):312-21.         [ Links ]

13. Yaylali GF, Tekekoglu S, Akin F. Sexual dysfunction in obese and overweight women. Int J Impot Res. 2010;22(4):220-6.         [ Links ]

14. Rosen R, Brown C, Heiman J, Leiblum S, Meston C, Shabsigh R et al. The Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI): a multidimensional self-report instrument for the assessment of female sexual function. J Sex Marital Ther. 2000;26(2):191-208.         [ Links ]

15. Kadioglu P, Yetkin DO, Sanli O, Yalin AS, Onem K, Kadioglu A . Obesity might not be a risk factor for female sexual dysfunction. BJU Int. 2010;106(9):1357-61.         [ Links ]

16. Abdo CHN. Elaboração e validação do quociente sexual - versão feminina: uma escala para avaliar a função sexual da mulher. RBM rev bras med. 2006;63(9):477-82.         [ Links ]

17. Esposito K, Giugliano D. Obesity, the metabolic syndrome, and sexual dysfunction. Int J Impot Res. 2005;17(5):391-8.         [ Links ]

 

 

 

Correspondence to:
Benedito Martins e Silva
E-mail: benekkk@uol.com.br

Received on 28/06/2012
Accepted for publication 14/08/2012
Conflict of interest: none
Source of funding: none

 

 

Study conducted at the Professor Alberto Antunes University Hospital, Federal University of Alagoas (HUPAA - UFAL), Maceió, Alagoas State - AL, Brazil.

 

 

APPENDIX I

Female Sexual Dysfunction Index - FSDI

(given in Portuguese)

Instructions:

This questionnaire asks about your sex life during the last 4 weeks. Please answer the questions as honestly and clearly as possible. Your answers will be kept strictly confidential. Check only one alternative per question. To answer the questions, use the following definitions: sexual activity can include cuddling, foreplay, masturbation ("handjob" / "clit rubbing") and sex; sex act is defined when there is penetration (entry) of the penis into the vagina; sexual stimulation includes situations like foreplay with a partner; self-stimulation (masturbation) or sexual fantasy (thoughts); sexual desire or sexual interest is a feeling that includes wanting to have sexual activity, feeling receptive to an initiative from a sexual partner and thinking or fantasizing about sex; sexual arousal is a feeling that includes physical and mental responses (may include sensations such as heat or swelling of the genitals, lubrication - feeling wet / "wet vagina" / "horny vagina" "- or twitches .)

1. Over the past 4 weeks, how often did you feel sexual desire or interest?

5 = Almost always or always

4 = Most times (more than half the time)

3 = Sometimes (about half the time)

2 = A few times (less than half the time)

1 = Almost never or never

2. Over the past 4 weeks, how would you rate your level (degree) of sexual desire or interest?

5 = Very high

4 = High

3 = Moderate

2 = Low

1 = Very low or none at all

3. Over the past 4 weeks, how often did you feel sexually aroused ("turned on") during sexual activity or intercourse?

0 = No sexual activity

5 = Almost always or always

4 = Most times (more than half the time)

3 = Sometimes (about half the time)

2 = A few times (less than half the time)

1 = Almost never or never

4. Over the past 4 weeks, how would you rate your level of sexual arousal ("turn on") during sexual activity or intercourse?

0 = No sexual activity

5 = Very high

4 = High

3 = Moderate

2 = Low

1 = Very low or none at all

5. Over the past 4 weeks, how confident were you about becoming sexually aroused during sexual activity or intercourse?

0 = No sexual activity

5 = Very high confidence

4 = High confidence

3 = Moderate confidence

2 = Low confidence

1 = Very low or no confidence

6. Over the past 4 weeks, how often have you been satisfied with your arousal (excitement) during sexual activity or intercourse?

0 = No sexual activity

5 = Almost always or always

4 = Most times (more than half the time)

3 = Sometimes (about half the time)

2 = A few times (less than half the time)

1 = Almost never or never

7. Over the past 4 weeks, how often did you become lubricated ("wet") during sexual activity or intercourse?

0 = No sexual activity

5 = Almost always or always

4 = Most times (more than half the time)

3 = Sometimes (about half the time)

2 = A few times (less than half the time)

1 = Almost never or never

8. Over the past 4 weeks, how difficult was it to become lubricated ("wet") during sexual activity or intercourse?

0 = No sexual activity

1 = Extremely difficult or impossible

2 = Very difficult

3 = Difficult

4 = Slightly difficult

5 = Not difficult

9. Over the past 4 weeks, how often did you maintain your lubrication ("wetness") until completion of sexual activity or intercourse?

0 = No sexual activity

5 = Almost always or always

4 = Most times (more than half the time)

3 = Sometimes (about half the time)

2 = A few times (less than half the time)

1 = Almost never or never

10. Over the past 4 weeks, how difficult was it to maintain your lubrication ("wetness") until completion of sexual activity or intercourse?

0 = No sexual activity

1 = Extremely difficult or impossible

2 = Very difficult

3 = Difficult

4 = Slightly difficult

5 = Not difficult

11.Over the past 4 weeks, when you had sexual stimulation or intercourse, how often did you reach orgasm (climax)?

0 = No sexual activity

5 = Almost always or always

4 = Most times (more than half the time)

3 = Sometimes (about half the time)

2 = A few times (less than half the time)

1 = Almost never or never

12. Over the past 4 weeks, when you had sexual stimulation or intercourse, how difficult was it for you to reach orgasm (climax)?

0 = No sexual activity

1 = Extremely difficult or impossible

2 = Very difficult

3 = Difficult

4 = Slightly difficult

5 = Not difficultPage 3 (of 4)

13. Over the past 4 weeks, how satisfied were you with your ability to reach orgasm (climax) during sexual activity or intercourse?

0 = No sexual activity

5 = Very satisfied

4 = Moderately satisfied

3 = About equally satisfied and dissatisfied

2 = Moderately dissatisfied

1 = Very dissatisfied

14. Over the past 4 weeks, how satisfied have you been with the amount of emotional closeness during sexual activity between you and your partner?

0 = No sexual activity

5 = Very satisfied

4 = Moderately satisfied

3 = About equally satisfied and dissatisfied

2 = Moderately dissatisfied

1 = Very dissatisfied

15. Over the past 4 weeks, how satisfied have you been with your sexual relationship with your partner?

5 = Very satisfied

4 = Moderately satisfied

3 = About equally satisfied and dissatisfied

2 = Moderately dissatisfied

1 = Very dissatisfied

16. Over the past 4 weeks, how satisfied have you been with your overall sexual life?

5 = Very satisfied

4 = Moderately satisfied

3 = About equally satisfied and dissatisfied

2 = Moderately dissatisfied

1 = Very dissatisfied

17. Over the past 4 weeks, how often did you experience discomfort or pain during vaginal penetration?

0 = Did not attempt intercourse

1 = Almost always or always

2 = Most times (more than half the time)

3 = Sometimes (about half the time)

4 = A few times (less than half the time)

5 = Almost never or never

18. Over the past 4 weeks, how often did you experience discomfort or pain following vaginal penetration?

0 = Did not attempt intercourse

1 = Almost always or always

2 = Most times (more than half the time)

3 = Sometimes (about half the time)

4 = A few times (less than half the time)

5 = Almost never or never

19. Over the past 4 weeks, how would you rate your level (degree) of discomfort or pain during or following vaginal penetration?

0 = Did not attempt intercourse

1 = Very high

2 = High

3 = Moderate

4 = Low

5 = Very low or none at all

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