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Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2013 Sep-Oct;31(5):683-90. Epub 2013 May 27.

Gynaecological symptoms and sexual disability in women with primary Sjögren's syndrome and sicca syndrome.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Florence, Italy.



This paper aims to investigate women with primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) and sicca syndrome (SS), focusing on the prevalence of disease-related symptoms and their impact on sexual ability, relationship, communication about sexuality with partner and health professionals (HP).


Sixty-two women with pSS and 33 with SS were assessed for sexual activity, relationship with partner, communication about sex; for physical disability and body esteem, fatigue, disability, quality of life (QoL), anxiety and depression.


Around 55% patients had a relationship; >79% and around 70% at least 1 gynaecological (especially dryness), and 1 muscle-skeletal symptom, respectively; around 60% sex disability for disease-related symptoms, mainly dryness (p=NS for all comparisons between pSS and SS). In both groups, disease changed sexual activity (around 50%), causing limitation (around 50%) and reduced frequency (>80%) in sexual intercourses; sex pleasure and satisfaction were around 30% and 25% (p=NS for pSS vs. SS). Around 55% patients discussed with partner disease-effects on relationship; despite in around 70% partner understood difficulties, in around 34% disease altered relationship (p=NS for pSS vs. SS). Around 16% patients were asked by HP if disease affected sexuality, around 30% never approached anyone to discuss about sex (p=NS for pSS vs. SS). Disability, QOL, mood, fatigue, similar in pSS versus SS (p=NS), were not affected by xerostomia and xeroftalmia, but by sex concerns and sex disability.


Patients with pSS and SS present, often and at the same extent, gynaecological symptoms, leading to impaired sexual intercourse, affecting pleasure, satisfaction, sexual ability.

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