Arthritis & Rheumatism, Volume 62,
November 2010 Abstract Supplement

Abstracts of the American College of
Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals
Annual Scientific Meeting
Atlanta, Georgia November 6-11, 2010.

Sexual Dysfunction in Female Fibromyalgia Patients.

Ablin4,  Jacob N., Gurevitz3,  Inna, Cohen1,  Hagit, Buskila2,  Dan

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel
Soroka Medical Center, Beer Sheva, Israel
Soroka Medical Center, Beer - Sheva, Israel
Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel

Background or Statement of Purpose:

Fibromyalgia, the prototypical central pain syndrome, is characterized by widespread pain, tenderness and fatigue.

Fibromyalgia causes significant impairment in general well-being and quality of life, often inflicted on young, predominantly female, patients. Sexual functioning is considered an important parameter determining quality of life and is often negatively affected by rheumatological disorders. Impaired sexual function has negative effects on intimacy, on self – esteem and on the ability to maintain a long-term relationship.

In Fibromyalgia, various factors may impact on sexuality, including contact—avoidant behavior due to tenderness, depression, fatigue and the effect of medications.

The purpose of the current study was to evaluate sexual dysfunction among fibromyalgia patients.


Subjects: Fifty female subjects were recruited. Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire regarding sexual functioning.

Inclusion criteria included age over 18 and fulfillment of the ACR 1990 criteria for classification of fibromyalgia. Patients were consecutively recruited from the Rheumatology clinic. Exclusion criteria included conditions deemed to preclude informed consent.

The control group included fifty-five healthy volunteers, who were matched for age and gender.

The study was approved by the local Institutional Review Board of the hospital.

Demographic data regarding age, education, marital status and past medical history were collected. Participants underwent physical examination and tender point assessment was performed using manual palpation. All participants filled out the Arizona Sexual Experience Scale, which evaluates five areas of sexual functioning: sexual drive, sexual arousal, vaginal wetting, orgasm and sexual satisfaction.


demographic parameters were compared using the Chi squared method. Sexual function parameters were compared using analysis of variance (ANOVA) for each parameter. Linear regression coefficients were calculated to describe the association between sexual function parameters and variables of age and pain intensity.

Summary of the Results:

Table 1 presents the results of the Arizona sexual experience scale among fibromyalgia patients and controls.

Table. sexual function parameters among fibromyalgia patients and healthy controls.

 FM patients N = 50 Mean (Std.Dev)Healthy Controls N = 55 Mean (Std. Dev)ANOVA
Arizona Sexual Experience
  Sexual drive4.8 (1.1)3.2 (1.0)F (1,13)=52.9, p<0.0001
  Sexual arousal4.6 (1.2)2.8 (0.8)F (1,13)=79.0, p<0.0001
  vagina wetting4.2 (1.0)2.9 (0.7)F (1,13)=59.3, p<0.0001
  Orgasm4.4 (1.3)2.8 (1.0)F (1,13)=47.1, p<0.0001
  Sexual satisfaction4.1 (1.5)2.5 (1.0)F (1,13)=41.0, p<0.0001
  Total score22.0 (5.4)14.3 (4.0)F (1,13)=68.9, p<0.0001


The results of the current study indicate a multi – factorial sexual dysfunction among female fibromyalgia patients. All stages of sexual functioning, evaluated were significantly disturbed in comparison with healthy controls. Physicians treating fibromyalgia patients should be aware of, and actively inquire about sexual dysfunction as part of a multi-disciplinary evaluation of female fibromyalgia patients.

To cite this abstract, please use the following information:
Ablin, Jacob N., Gurevitz, Inna, Cohen, Hagit, Buskila, Dan; Sexual Dysfunction in Female Fibromyalgia Patients. [abstract]. Arthritis Rheum 2010;62 Suppl 10 :812
DOI: 10.1002/art.28580

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