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Twin Res Hum Genet. 2011 Jun;14(3):240-8. doi: 10.1375/twin.14.3.240.

An epidemiological survey of post-coital psychological symptoms in a UK population sample of female twins.

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  • 1Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, King's College, United Kingdom. andrea.burri@kcl.ac.uk


Postcoital psychological symptoms (PPS) is a virtually unexplored phenomenon in the female population even though women frequently complain about irritability and motiveless crying after intercourse and/or orgasm. The aim of this study was to explore the epidemiology and genetic influences of PPS in a UK population sample of women. 1,489 unselected female twins aged 18-85 completed questions on recent and persistent PPS and potential risk factors. Standard methods of quantitative genetic analysis were used to model latent genetic and environmental factors influencing variation in PPS. For identification of potential risk factors, regression analyses were conducted. Phenotypic variation in PPS was explored using a genetic variance component analysis (VCA) approach. We found 3.7% of women reported suffering from recent PPS and 7.7% from persistent PPS. Relationship satisfaction and experience of abuse were found to be independently associated with recent (OR 4.5, 95% CI 4.13-4.87 and OR 1.3, 95% CI 1.02-1.34, respectively) and persistent PPS (OR 2.53, 95% CI 2.17-2.81 and OR 1.16, 95% CI 1.09-1.26, respectively). VCA revealed that phenotypic variance was best explained by an additive genetic (AE) model, ascribing 28% (for recent PPS) and 26% (for persistent PPS) of phenotypic variance to additive genetic effects, with the rest being a result of individual experiences and random measurement error. To our knowledge, this is the first and largest study investigating the epidemiology of PPS. It seems that the most important targets for intervention and prevention occur outside of the family, such as relationship quality and satisfaction, and history of abuse.

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