Study suggests that poor sleep quality, not duration, can lead to female sexual dysfunction
The importance of getting a good night's sleep cannot be overstated. Lack of sleep can lead to a number of health problems and affect a woman's overall quality of life. A new study suggests that insufficient quality sleep also may lead to problems in the bedroom in the form of female sexual dysfunction. Study results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
Both sleep and sexual function problems are common in women during midlife. More than 26% of midlife women experience significant sleep symptoms that meet the criteria for insomnia, and sleep problems are reported by nearly half of women during the menopause transition. Up to 43% of women report sexual problems during this same period in their lives.
Multiple studies have been conducted to determine whether there is any association between sleep and sexual function problems. However, most of the previous studies did not consistently evaluate sexual dysfunction with validated tools, nor did they define sexual dysfunction by the presence of sex problems associated with distress.
In this study involving more than 3,400 women (mean age, 53 y), researchers evaluated potential associations between sleep quality and duration and sexual function using validated tools after accounting for factors that may influence both outcomes. They concluded that poor sleep quality, but not sleep duration, was associated with greater odds of female sexual dysfunction. Good sleep quality, in contrast, was linked with sexual activity.
Understanding this association is valuable as clinicians seek to identify potential treatment options for women affected by sleep and sexual problems. Both of these common midlife issues have been determined to adversely affect a woman's quality of life.
To evaluate associations between sleep and female sexual function.
A cross-sectional analysis from the Data Registry on Experiences of Aging, Menopause and Sexuality (DREAMS) was performed using questionnaires in women presenting for menopause or sexual health consult at Mayo Clinic from December, 2016 to September, 2019. Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), Female Sexual Distress Scale-Revised (FSDS-R), and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) assessed sexual function and sleep parameters, respectively. Associations between sleep quality (PSQI score ≥ 5 poor sleep quality), sleep durations (< 5 h, 5-6 h, 6-7 h, > 7 h) and female sexual dysfunction (FSFI ≤ 26.55 and FSDS-R ≥ 11) were evaluated utilizing a multivariable logistic model adjusting for multiple factors. A secondary analysis evaluated sleep quality by sexual activity and also included sexually inactive women.
A total of 3,433 women were included (mean age 53). Sexually active women (N = 2,487; 72.4%) were included in the primary analysis; 75% had poor sleep quality, and 54% met criteria for female sexual dysfunction. On multivariable analysis, women with poor sleep quality were 1.48 times more likely to report female sexual dysfunction (95% CI 1.21-1.80, P < 0.001). Of women who reported sleeping < 5 hours nightly, 63.3% had female sexual dysfunction, and their Female Sexual Function Index total and domain scores were significantly lower than women sleeping > 7 hours nightly (P = 0.004); however, this was not statistically significant in multivariable analysis. Sexually active women were more likely to report good sleep quality compared with sexually inactive women (25.3% vs 20.5%, P = 0.003).
Poor sleep quality, but not sleep duration, was associated with greater odds of female sexual dysfunction. Good sleep quality was linked to sexual activity. In addition to its myriad effects on health, poor sleep quality is associated with female sexual dysfunction.
Kling, Juliana M. MD, MPH; Kapoor, Ekta MBBS; Mara, Kristin M; Faubion, Stephanie S. MD, MBA. Associations of sleep and female sexual function good sleep quality matters. Menopause: April 19, 2021 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001744