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Sexual dysfunction may occur following pelvic fractures, but it is hard to gather data about this link, the authors of a new review have concluded.
The review is published in the June issue of the Journal of Urology, which is a leading medical journal.
Because pelvic fractures are relatively rare amongst the general population, their effects have not been extensively researched, particularly with regards to sexual problems.
Yet as serious pelvic injuries have become better understood by doctors, survival rates have increased, with a resulting increase in chronic conditions, including sexual dysfunction.
The latest review analysed 23 papers that have been published since 1989. The average incidence of sexual dysfunction was 35.9% amongst men and 39.6% amongst women; a result that surprised the reviewers, as the male urethra is particularly vulnerable during pelvic injuries. They suggest that this may show the importance of psychological and emotional factors in sexual activity. Among the researchers’ recommendations was that sexual function should be assessed in both sexes following pelvic injury.
One reason it can be so difficult to assess sexual function following an injury is that sexual dysfunction can be difficult to define. The reviewers wrote: “There is no general consensus on definitions of sexual dysfunction, no single used means of sexual function assessment, no standardization of time end points to reach the diagnosis of sexual dysfunction, and there are differences in management strategies among authors and health systems.”
Female sexual dysfunction is believed to affect 40% of women, and may be particularly common in post-menopausal women.