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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2009 Oct;18(10):1549-57. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2008.1165.

Sexual function outcomes in women treated for posttraumatic stress disorder.

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  • 1National Center for PTSD, Executive Division, White River Junction, Vermont 05009, USA.



This study examined dysfunctional sexual behavior and sexual concerns in women treated for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There were three objectives: to characterize the relationship between symptoms of PTSD and sexual outcomes, to examine the effect of treatment on sexual outcomes, and to examine the relationship between change in PTSD and change in sexual outcomes.


Female veterans and active duty personnel with PTSD (n = 242), 93% of whom had experienced sexual trauma, were randomly assigned to receive 10 weekly sessions of either Prolonged Exposure or Present-Centered Therapy. PTSD and sexual outcomes were assessed before and after treatment and then 3 and 6 months later.


At baseline, the reexperiencing, numbing, and hyperarousal symptom clusters were related to one or both sexual outcomes. Although prior analyses had shown that Prolonged Exposure resulted in better PTSD outcomes, there were no differences between treatments for either dysfunctional sexual behavior or sexual concerns. However, loss of PTSD diagnosis was associated with improvements in sexual concerns.


The findings suggest that clinically meaningful improvements in PTSD are necessary in order to reduce sexual problems in traumatized women.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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