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BMJ. 2003 Aug 23;327(7412):423.

Problems with sexual function in people attending London general practitioners: cross sectional study.

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  • 1Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London NW3 2PF.



To assess sexual behaviour, prevalence of ICD-10 diagnosed sexual dysfunction, associations between sexual and psychological problems, and help seeking for sexual problems in people attending general practice; to assess predictors of ICD-10 diagnosis of sexual dysfunction.


Cross sectional study.


13 general practices in London.


1065 women and 447 men attending general practices.


Prevalence and predictors of ICD-10 diagnoses of sexual dysfunction.


97 (22%, 95% confidence interval 18% to 25%) men and 422 (40%, 37% to 43%) women received at least one ICD-10 diagnosis, but only 3-4% had an entry relating to sexual problems in their general practice notes. The most common problems were erectile failure and lack or loss of sexual desire in men and lack or loss of sexual desire and failure of orgasmic response in women. Increasing age and being unemployed predicted sexual problems in women, and bisexual orientation, being non-white, and being unemployed were demographic predictors in men. No practice note factors predicted sexual problems in women, but high consulting rate predicted problems in men. The main clinical predictors were poor physical function and dissatisfaction with current sex life in both sexes and higher psychological morbidity in women. When all factors were considered, increasing age (odds ratio 1.01, 1.00 to 1.02), physical subscale score on the SF-12 (0.98, 0.97 to 0.99), sexual dissatisfaction (1.9, 1.5 to 2.4), and scoring over a 3/4 threshold score on the general health questionnaire (1.5, 1.1 to 1.9) independently predicted an ICD-10 sexual dysfunction diagnosis in women. Being bisexual (4.1, 1.3 to 12.8) was the only independent predictor of an ICD-10 diagnosis in men.


Sexual difficulties are common in people attending general practitioners, and many people are prepared to talk about them with their doctors.

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