Young women with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) have a low prevalence of sexual dysfunction problems, a study says.
The findings of the study, “Sexual function in female juvenile idiopathic arthritis patients,” were published in Advances in Rheumatology.
JIA encompasses a group of chronic inflammatory conditions that affect the joints, causing swelling, stiffness, and pain in children and adolescents. Improved treatments have been reflected in the lifespans of patients who now often reach reproductive age.
For this reason, “sexual function is a relevant issue for [young female patients] and requires analysis of the major domains of female sexual function, such as arousal, orgasm, comfort, and sexual satisfaction,” the investigators stated.
In this study, Brazilian researchers set out to assess sexual function in a group of young women with JIA and compared it to that of healthy women.
The cross-section study enrolled 21 young women with JIA (median age 26.5 years) and 25 healthy controls (median age 29.3 years). Participants’ sexual function was assessed using the Sexual Quotient Questionnaire for Females (SQQ-F) score, which is based on a questionnaire of 10 rating questions about sex life. Higher scores correspond to good/excellent sexual function. Patients’ demographic, clinical and biochemical data were also collected and analyzed.
No significant differences in the age of first sexual activity (18 versus 17 years old), nor in the median SQQ-F scores (75.9 versus 78.2, both fair to good) were found between young women with JIA and healthy controls.
Likewise, no significant differences were found in the prevalence of sexual dysfunction — corresponding to SQQ-F scores lower than 62 (unfavorable to fair) — among female patients with JIA and healthy controls (14% versus 12%).
The frequencies of the most common domains of sexual dysfunction were identical in both groups and included desire/sexual fantasies (67% versus 52%), pain/penetration (33% versus 12%), penetration/relaxation (24% versus 4%), arousal/lubrication (19% versus 12%), desire/interest (14% versus 16%) and orgasm (14% versus 24%).
No significant differences in gynecological, clinical or demographic data were found between young women with JIA with or without sexual dysfunction.
“To our knowledge, this was the first study using a validated sexual score in a chronic arthritis population suggesting a low frequency of overall sexual dysfunction in young JIA patients. Future multi-center studies with a large sample will be necessary to confirm this finding,” the scientists concluded.