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Survey Addresses Patients’ Views on Sexual Health

Nov 22, 2016

Survey Addresses Patients’ Views on Sexual Health

How important is sexual health and satisfaction to a person’s quality of life? The answer depends on age, gender, sexual activity status, and overall health, according to a new study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Sexual dysfunction - such as erectile dysfunction (ED) in men and painful intercourse for women – are common, especially for people with medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety. But sexual problems aren’t always discussed during doctor’s appointments. Some assume that doctors or patients will bring up the subject if it’s really important.

The importance of sex to one’s overall well-being hasn’t been widely studied by medical researchers. A group of American scientists decided to learn more.

They asked 3,515 people to complete an online questionnaire. The group was almost equally split between men and women, and their average age was 49.

Importance of Sexual Health

Among the entire group, about 43% of the women and 62% of the men said that sexual health was important to their quality of life. Participants who were in better overall health tended to rate sexual health as important, too.

Respondents who were not sexually active were less likely to consider sexual health to be highly important.

The researchers also examined how specific health conditions (arthritis, rheumatism, cancer, heart disease, depression, anxiety, diabetes, and high blood pressure) affected the respondents’ views. However, none of these conditions influenced the ratings.

Sexual Satisfaction

What factors contributed to satisfaction with one’s sex life? To find out, the authors analyzed information from the 55% of the men and 45% of the women who said they’d been sexually active within the last month. Findings were based on scores on one portion of the questionnaire designed to evaluate sex life satisfaction.

They found that people in their mid-to-late thirties were the most satisfied with their sex life. After age 70, satisfaction rates decreased. Health status was also an important factor, as people who rated their overall health as excellent were more satisfied than those who said they were in fair or poor health.

Certain health conditions did influence satisfaction with one’s sex life. High blood pressure was the biggest factor for women. For men, depression and anxiety had the greatest impact on satisfaction.

The authors pointed out that physical health isn’t the only factor that determines satisfaction with one’s sex life. Beliefs on what makes a satisfying sex life are quite personal, they noted.

Race was a factor only for men. Latino and Hispanic men were more likely to say sexual health was highly important, and black men had better scores on the sex life satisfaction assessment.

The survey results can be useful for healthcare providers, the authors explained, recommending that practices have “resources in place” to address patients’ sexual health issues.

“These resources should be available for all patients across the lifespan,” they added.   

Resources

The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Kathryn E. Flynn, PhD, et al.

“Sexual Satisfaction and the Importance of Sexual Health to Quality of Life Throughout the Life Course of U.S. Adults”

(Full-text. Published online: September 23, 2016)

http://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(16)30376-9/abstract