Sexual health is rarely addressed during patient care and research in multiple sclerosis.
Although sexual dysfunction is prevalent among patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), this health issue is rarely addressed during patient care and research, according to a study presented at the 34th Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis meeting, held October 10 to 12, 2018, in Berlin, Germany.
Canadian researchers performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of recent literature to determine the point prevalence of sexual dysfunction in patients with MS between 1977 and 2015 (n=14,538).
A total of 43 studies that met the investigators’ prespecified inclusion and exclusion criteria were included in the review and subsequent meta-analysis. Data were pooled in the stratified meta-analysis and meta-regression to assess differences in study-level characteristics.
The overall weighted prevalence of sexual dysfunction in the pooled cohort was 58% (95% CI, 52%-64%). Between-study heterogeneity was reported to be significant.
No significant association was found between the prevalence of sexual dysfunction and age, disability (as assessed by the Expanded Disability Status Scale), disease duration, or proportion with relapsing-remitting MS in the meta-regression analysis.
In addition, a sensitivity analysis did not find a difference between studies with low risk for bias in the pooled prevalence of sexual dysfunction (55%; 95% CI, 48%-62%; P =.95).
“Sexual dysfunction is highly prevalent in people living with MS, across the spectrum of disease,” Jiwon Oh, MD, the study’s presenter, reported.
“Despite this, sexual dysfunction is underrecognized, and rarely addressed in clinical settings and practice guidelines. Taken together, these data highlight the need for increased recognition of sexual dysfunction within MS clinical practice and evidence-based approaches to address this facet of the disease.”
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