PARIS—Sexual dysfunction is highly prevalent in sexually active women with end-stage renal disease requiring hemodialysis (HD), according to data presented at the 49th Congress of the European Renal Association-European Dialysis and Transplant Association (ERA-EDTA).

Suetonia Palmer, MD, senior lecturer at the University of Otago in Christchurch, New Zealand, and colleagues elsewhere used the widely validated Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) to screen for any form of sexual dysfunction in women with ESRD on HD. The women included in the study were recruited from 27 dialysis clinics in Europe and South America.

Compared with increasing awareness of sexual dysfunction in men

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on HD, sexual dysfunction in women with chronic kidney disease has not been rigorously investigated and is therefore less well understood, Dr. Palmer said.  Also, descriptive data for sexual dysfunction in women on HD are limited by suboptimal study design.

Of 1,472 women who were contacted, 659 completed the FSFI questionnaire.  More than half of them lived with a partner, and slightly more than a third described themselves as sexually active. Overall, 555 respondents, or 84%, had FSFI scores consistent with sexual dysfunction.

When the analysis was restricted to the subgroup of HD patients who were sexually active, the prevalence of sexual dysfunction was 55%. Other studies have found a prevalence rate for sexual dysfunction of about 30% for women in the general population.

The study also found that single women who are were not waitlisted for a transplant had the highest risk for sexual dysfunction.

Given the potentially high prevalence of sexual dysfunction in women on dialysis, more studies are needed to examine the relevance of sexual dysfunction on symptom burden and quality of life in these women, Dr. Palmer said.

Finally, she cautioned that the study had a response rate of only 45%. Additionally, the analysis did not include data for race or ethnicity, which has been shown to correlate with sexual function in other populations.