Background Knowledge about quality of life and sexual health in patients with genital psoriasis is limited.
Objectives We studied quality of life and sexual function in a large group of patients with genital psoriasis by means of validated questionnaires. In addition, we evaluated whether sufficient attention is given by healthcare professionals to sexual problems in patients with psoriasis, as perceived by the patients.
Methods A self-administered questionnaire was sent to 1579 members of the Dutch Psoriasis Association. Sociodemographic patient characteristics, medical data and scores of several validated questionnaires regarding quality of life (Dermatology Life Quality Index) and sexual health (Sexual Quality of Life Questionnaire for use in Men, International Index of Erectile Function, Female Sexual Distress Scale and Female Sexual Function Index) were collected and analysed.
Results This study (n = 487) shows that psoriasis has a detrimental effect on quality of life and sexual health. Patients with genital lesions reported even significantly worse quality of life than patients without genital lesions (mean ± SD quality of life scores 8·5 ± 6·5 vs. 5·5 ± 4·6, respectively, P < 0·0001). Sexual distress and dysfunction are particularly prominent in women (reported by 37·7% and 48·7% of the female patients, respectively). Sexual distress is especially high when genital skin is affected (mean ± SD sexual distress score in patients with genital lesions 16·1 ± 12·1 vs. 10·1 ± 9·7 in patients without genital lesions, P = 0·001). The attention given to possible sexual problems in the psoriasis population by healthcare professionals is perceived as insufficient by patients.
Conclusions In addition to quality of life, sexual health is diminished in a considerable number of patients with psoriasis and particularly women with genital lesions have on average high levels of sexual distress. We underscore the need for physicians to pay attention to the impact of psoriasis on psychosocial and sexual health when treating patients for this skin disease.