The Relationship Between Sexual Function and Quality of Sleep in Caregiving Mothers of Sons with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy




The task of the caregiver, especially a caregiving mother of a son with a chronic and fatal disease, may interfere with their quality of sleep, sexuality, and some hormone levels.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the sexual function and the quality of sleep of caregiving mothers of sons with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).


We evaluated 20 caregiving mothers of sons with DMD and 20 caregiving mothers of sons without any neuromuscular or chronic disease. All of them voluntarily responded to the evaluating questionnaires about their sexuality and their quality of sleep, and gave blood samples to evaluate their hormonal levels.

Main Outcome Measures

All mothers were evaluated using the questionnaire of Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) and the Pittsburgh questionnaire (PSQI). The blood samples were tested to determine serum levels of testosterone, estradiol, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, progesterone, adrenocorticotropic hormone, and cortisol.


Caregiving mothers of sons with DMD had significantly lower scores in the FSFI questionnaire, suggesting a higher risk for sexual dysfunction. The PSQI demonstrated that these caregiving mothers present increased sleep latency, reduced sleep efficiency, daytime dysfunction, and poor sleep quality. Blood tests showed a rise in cortisol levels, which correlated with the compromised sexuality and quality of sleep.


This study indicates that caregiving mothers of sons with DMD show major risk for sexual dysfunction and a reduction in their quality of sleep mediated in part by the hormonal changes related to stress. Nozoe KT, Hachul H, Hirotsu C, Polesel DN, Moreira GA, Tufik S, and Andersen ML. The relationship between sexual function and quality of sleep in caregiving mothers of sons with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Sex Med 2014;2:133–140.