A new study found that sickle cell disease (SCD) places a significant, albeit underrecognized, burden on women’s sexual lives. “Due to the sensitivity of discussing sexual dysfunction, women with SCD may not complain about this and the diagnosis is unlikely to be made,” Adesoye and Akhigbe wrote in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Therefore, they conducted a survey in a cohort of 435 women with SCD and 406 women without SCD to address sexual life-related issues. They found that many women with SCD experienced sex-induced (54.02%) or orgasm-induced (56.55%) crises.

Sex-induced crises were experienced a few times by most (57.02%) women, in particular after 3 or more instances of sex (50.63%). Orgasm-induced crises were experienced a few times by most (56.69%) women. For almost half (46.38%) of the women, overexhaustion was the trigger for sex-induced crisis, while for 26.38%, it was due to dehydration.

The results also showed higher prevalences of dyspareunia and sexual dysfunction in the SCD group than in the non-SCD group. SCD was associated with multiple sexual dysfunctions, including sexual desire disorder, female sexual arousal disorder, and female sexual orgasm disorder. In addition, women with SCD scored lower on the ENRICH Marital Satisfaction scale.

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“This suggests more clinical alertness by medical practitioners to probe women with SCD on issues bothering around their sexual functions as an integral part of evidence-based strategies to prevent and manage infertility and improve the quality of life in women with SCD,” Adesoye and Akhigbe said.

Adesoye and Akhigbe identified genotype, age, age at puberty, dyspareunia, and duration of infertility as independent predictors of sexual dysfunction in women with SCD. On the other hand, water intake before and after sex did not predict sexual dysfunction, despite being reported as a preventive measure for sex-induced and orgasm-induced crises.

Reference

Adesoye OB, Akhigbe RE. Predictors of sex-induced crisis, sexual function and marital satisfaction in women with sickle cell disease. J Sex Med. Published online September 7, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.jsxm.2022.07.013