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Obstet Gynecol. 2005 Jul;106(1):121-7.

Sexual activity and function in postmenopausal women with heart disease.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, 85724, USA.



To examine the prevalence and correlates of sexual activity and function in postmenopausal women with heart disease.


We included baseline self-reported measures of sexual activity and the sexual problem scale from the Medical Outcomes Study in the Heart and Estrogen/Progestin Replacement Study (HERS), a study of 2,763 postmenopausal women, average age 67 years, with coronary disease and intact uteri. We used multivariable linear and logistic regression to identify independent correlates of sexual activity and dysfunction.


Approximately 39% of the women in HERS were sexually active, and 65% of these reported at least 1 of 5 sexual problems (lack of interest, inability to relax, difficulty in arousal or in orgasm, and discomfort with sex). In multivariable analysis, factors independently associated with being sexually active included younger age, fewer years since menopause, being married, better self-reported health, higher parity, moderate alcohol use, not smoking, lack of chest discomfort, and not being depressed. Among the 1,091 women who were sexually active, lower sexual problem scores were associated with being unmarried, being better educated, having better self-reported health, and having higher body mass index.


Many women with heart disease continue to engage in sexual activity into their 70s, and two thirds of these report discomfort and other sexual function problems. Physicians should be aware that postmenopausal patients are sexually active and address the problems these women experience.



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