Sexual activity and functioning in female scleroderma patients

Ann Julie Impens, Jennifer Rothman, Elena Schiopu, Jason C. Cole, Jeff Dang, Noel Gendrano, Raymond C. Rosen, James R. Seibold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Objective. Few studies exist on sexual activity and functioning in female patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc, scleroderma). We studied the patient-reported impact of SSc on sexual functioning among female patients. Methods. 101 SSc patients completed the Short Form-36 (SF-36), the Female Sexual Functioning Index (FSFI) and the Female Sexual Function in Scleroderma (FSFS) questionnaires. Results. Sixty patients reported being sexually active (59.4%). Reasons for sexual inactivity included lack of a partner (36.6%), personal choice (31.7%), and health status of the respondent's partner (19.5%). Only 7 subjects (17%) listed scleroderma as the primary reason for sexual inactivity. The mean FSFI score in the sexually active population was 24.9 (SD=6.7, range = 4.5-34.8) which is significantly lower than the mean score of 30.5 reported for the general population. Sexual functioning was significantly correlated with the Mental Component Score of the SF-36 (r=0.54, p<0.001) but surprisingly not with the Physical Component Score of the SF-36, age, and disease classification or duration. Several scleroderma-related problems including fatigue, body pain, vaginal dryness, and vaginal discomfort were cited as contributing to sexual difficulties. Conclusion. Women with scleroderma do remain sexually active overall in spite of several disease-related physical and psychological difficulties. Many of their problems are amenable to health interventions and should be addressed during health care visits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S38-S43
JournalClinical and Experimental Rheumatology
Issue number3 SUPPL. 54
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Female sexual
  • Functioning
  • Quality of life
  • Scleroderma
  • Systemic sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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