A longitudinal study of sexual functioning in women referred for colposcopy: a 2-year follow up


Dr C Hellsten, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Malmö University Hospital, Lund University, Malmö S-205 02, Sweden. Email charlotte.hellsten@med.lu.se


Objective  To elucidate psychosexual problems in women referred for colposcopy after an abnormal cervical smear and a 6-month and 2-year follow up.

Design  Prospective study.

Setting  Department of Gynaecology, Malmö University Hospital, Sweden.

Population  One hundred consecutive women referred for colposcopy for the first time subsequent to receiving notification of an abnormal cervical smear.

Methods  The women completed the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, a psychosexual questionnaire and had one psychosocial interview prior to colposcopy at all three visits.

Main outcome measures  Depending upon the result of the cervical biopsy, women had either a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) or not. Psychosexual variables, anxiety measures, and psychosocial variables were used to estimate sexual functioning at the beginning of the study and at follow up. Differences in sexual functioning between LEEP and non-LEEP groups were estimated.

Results  ‘Spontaneous interest in sex’, ‘frequency of intercourse’, and ‘sexual arousal’ were reported to be statistically significant lower at 6 months compared with the first visit, and at 2 years, ‘spontaneous interest in sex’ and ‘frequency of intercourse’ still remained low. There was no difference in sexual functioning between the LEEP and non-LEEP groups at follow up.

Conclusions  Two years after referral for colposcopy, women still had an effect on sexual functioning, that is, lesser ‘spontaneous interest’ and decreased ‘frequency of intercourse’. We found no support for a relationship between treatment of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia by LEEP and deterioration in sexual functioning.