The literature of human sexual dysfunction tends to focus on the problems of men; specifically erectile dysfunction. There are relatively fewer investigations into sexual problems experienced by women, even though the studies that have been conducted indicate that women experience sexual dysfunction more frequently than men (Jeffrey, 2006). This paper reviews articles that were found to focus entirely or in part on the sexual problems faced by women with chronic illness at middle age and beyond.
Most studies that exist further find sexual dysfunction in women to be correlated with increased age and/or poor health (the two factors are often treated as one).
[...] As women age, and with increasing obesity rates in the United States, hypertension and other components of metabolic syndrome become more common. Hypertension and other diseases with vascular consequences are implicated in male erectile dysfunction and it is now being realized that these same conditions impact female sexual function. Susan Jeffrey (2006) reports that while 31% of men report sexual dysfunction, the rate is 43% for women. It has now been discovered that hypertension is significantly correlated with female as well as male sexual dysfunction, with 42% of hypertensive women reporting some type of sexual dysfunction vs of women with normal blood pressure. [...]
[...] (Women only) Yes answers were followed by inquiry into frequency and severity of the problem. As the data were analyzed researchers looked for correlations between sexual problems and health problems, age, etc. Laumann, et al. found geographic variation in responses, with persons in East and Southeast Asia having a prevalence of sexual problems nearly double that of other areas. For women world-wide, lack of interest in sex and inability to reach orgasm was commonly reported. Interestingly, age was not found to be correlated with inability to reach orgasm. [...]
[...] Sexual satisfaction was negatively correlated with blood levels for C-Reactive Protein, a marker of systemic inflammation and nitric oxide deactivation (nitric oxide is a factor in male erection production). The authors find that further investigation into sildenafil and other treatments for women with sexual dysfunction related to metabolic syndrome is warranted. They did not, however, speculate as to whether side- effects of medication used to treat components of metabolic syndrome (such as anti-hypertensives) could be implicated in the increased rate of female sexual dysfunction that they found in their study subjects. [...]
[...] Women aged 50-59 were twice as likely to report difficulty with lubrication as either younger or older women. No analysis was presented as to whether this finding could be accounted for by factors such as artificial lubrication, culture or lack of a partner for the oldest group of women surveyed. For all sexual issues and in all geographic areas, these researchers found that cultural attitudes discouraging sexual thoughts or activity as women aged and low expectations about the future of the current sexual relationship were associated with sexual dysfunction in women. [...]
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