Screen Readers Skip to Content

Sexual Dysfunction and Women with Primary Sjogren's Syndrome

Author: Oxford University Press
Published: 8th Feb 2015
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
Additional References: Sexual Dysfunction Publications

Summary: Those affected experience dryness of eyes and mouth, and a variety of other symptoms such as extreme fatigue and arthritis.

Main Document

Primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) is the second most common systemic autoimmune disease behind rheumatoid arthritis, with female patients outnumbering males by a ratio of 9:1.

Those affected often experience dryness of the eyes and mouth, together with a variety of other symptoms such as extreme fatigue and arthritis. There is also a high prevalence of vaginal dryness and difficult or painful sexual intercourse in women with pSS, along with symptoms common across rheumatic diseases such as pain, stiffness, negative body image, anxiety, reduced libido, and side-effects from treatments.

Jolien F. van Nimwegen and colleagues from the University Medical Centre, Groningen, in the Netherlands compared sexual functioning and sexual distress in women with pSS to healthy controls. Their study looked at 46 women with pSS and 43 age-matched healthy controls, with all participants completing questionnaires about their sexual function, sexual distress, fatigue levels, and anxiety and depression levels.

Women with pSS reported significantly worse scores for levels of desire, arousal, orgasm, lubrication, and pain during intercourse when compared to healthy controls, indicating a higher level of sexual dysfunction in patients with pSS. More patients than controls had impaired sexual functioning (56% vs 27%). Furthermore, patients with pSS had significantly more distress related to sexual function, and fewer patients were sexually active in the previous four weeks compared to the control group (76% vs 93%). Reduced sexual function was associated with more patient-reported symptoms of pSS, reduced motivation, and higher levels of mental fatigue, depressive symptoms, and relationship dissatisfaction.

The study also found that 67% of patients never discussed their sexual complaints with their rheumatologist despite 58% of those patients experiencing sexual dysfunction. The most common reason for this was this was that the rheumatologist never brought it up.

"The sexual health of patients with rheumatic diseases is often neglected, as both patients and physicians may find it difficult to address sexual complaints, partly because effective treatment options are not yet available," says Jolien van Nimwegen. "However, by simply acknowledging and discussing these complaints rheumatologists can help patients to cope with their sexual problems. If necessary patients can be referred to a gynaecologist or a sexologist.

"Sexual dysfunction should not be ignored in patients with pSS. Asking about sexual complaints is important, especially as many patients will not bring the subject up themselves."

Post to Twitter Add to Facebook

Latest Sexual Dysfunction Publications

The above information is from our reference library of resources relating to Sexual Dysfunction that includes:

A Tale of Three Women: Vaginismus, Menopause, and Sexual Anhedonia thumbnail image.
Three women with separate stories of sexual issues and discoveries.
Publish Date: 31st Jan 2023
Nine different colored cancer awareness ribbons. thumbnail image
The study highlights gender disparity in how frequently doctors and clinical trials assess the impact of treatment on sexual health.
Publish Date: 22nd Oct 2022 - Updated: 24th Oct 2022
Exercise Improves Erectile and Sexual Function in Males thumbnail image.
Recent study reveals men who exercise more have better erectile and sexual function, regardless of race.
Publish Date: 29th Mar 2015 - Updated: 24th Oct 2022
Sexual Dysfunction and Women with Primary Sjogren's Syndrome thumbnail image.
Those affected experience dryness of eyes and mouth, and a variety of other symptoms such as extreme fatigue and arthritis.
Publish Date: 8th Feb 2015

1How Many Genders Are There?
Alphabetical list of gender identities.

2Transgender Reporting Guide
How to write about transgender people.

3Glossary of Sexuality Terms
Definitions of sexual terms & acronyms.

4Glossary of Sexual Identities
Definitions of gender related terms.

5Am I Gay? Questions to Ask
Think you may be gay or bisexual?

• Submissions: Send us your coming events and LGBTQ related news stories.

• Report Errors: Please report outdated or inaccurate information to us.

• (APA): Oxford University Press. (2015, February 8). Sexual Dysfunction and Women with Primary Sjogren's Syndrome. Retrieved April 13, 2024 from

• Permalink: <a href="">Sexual Dysfunction and Women with Primary Sjogren's Syndrome</a>