A new study of women with bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis (BPS/IC) suggests that a majority of them have sexual dysfunction.

Laura Bogart, MD, of Children’s Hospital in Boston, and her colleagues studied 1,469 women with BPS/IC. Nearly all reported having sexual intercourse. In this cohort, 985 women (75%) had a current partner. These women had a mean age of 43.6 years. Eighty-eight percent of these women reported one or more general sexual dysfunction symptoms and 90% reported one or more BPS/IC-specific sexual dysfunction symptom in the past four weeks.

In contrast, a previous study of a general U.S. representative sample of women revealed that sexual dysfunction afflicted 43% of women.

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Bladder pain during and/or after sex was the most prevalent of the BPS/IC-specific symptoms.  Bladder pain was experienced by almost two thirds of the women with a current partner in the previous four weeks.

In multivariate analysis, BPS/IC-specific sexual dysfunction was significantly associated with more severe BPS/IC symptoms, younger age, worse depression symptoms, and worse perceived general health. General sexual dysfunction was significantly associated with non-Latino race/ethnicity, being married, and having depression symptoms.

Moreover, the researchers found that one quarter of the women with a current sex partner reported seeking medical help for their sexual dysfunction symptoms. The authors noted that treatment of sexual dysfunction can be challenging and requires a team approach. When possible, treatment and counseling should involve the patient’s sexual partner, they stated.