Prevalence and Potential Risk Factors of Female Sexual Difficulties: An Urban Iranian Population-Based Study


Azita Goshtasebi, MD, MCH, Iranian Institute for Health Sciences Research, No. 51, Nazari Street, South Palestine Street, Enghelab Avenue, Tehran, Iran. Tel: 00982166480804; Fax: (98) 21-66480805; E-mail:;


Introduction.  Female sexual dysfunction is common, a multifactorial phenomenon with a potential to cause marital strain, impaired fertility, and poor quality of life. Epidemiologic data are scarce and little is known about the prevalence of sexual difficulties and the exact role of putative risk factors in Iran.

Aim.  To determine the prevalence of female sexual difficulties and the potential risk factors in an urban Iranian population.

Methods.  A cross-sectional study was performed in the province of Kohgilooyeh–Boyerahmad (KB) in the southwest of Iran and involved sexually active urban women aged 15 years and over, selected via a quota-based cluster sampling method. The study used an ad hoc questionnaire covering the demographic and reproductive variables as well as the data related to sexual difficulties. Data were analyzed using multiple logistic regression models. The main outcome measures were the prevalence rates and the predictors of sexual difficulties.

Main Outcome Measures.  The prevalence of female sexual difficulties and the associated risk factors.

Results.  One thousand four hundred fifty-six sexually active women living in the urban areas of KB province in 2005 were selected. The mean age of the sample was 34.04 ± 9.2 (16–71) years and the mean number of completed grades was 7.18 (±4.8). More than 52% of the participants had experienced at least one type of sexual difficulty. The greatest and smallest frequencies were observed for orgasm difficulty (21.3%, confidence interval[CI]0.95 = 19.2–23.4%) and lubrication difficulty (11.9%, CI0.95 = 10.2–13.6%). Age, education, contraceptive modality, and obstetric/gynecologic procedures were all associated with at least one type of sexual dysfunction.

Conclusion.  Similar to previous studies, we found a relatively high prevalence of sexual difficulties in this urban population of low socioeconomic status. However, our results concerning the role of some demographic and reproductive variables in producing sexual difficulties were different from those reported by other researchers. Goshtasebi A, Vahdaninia M, and Rahimi Foroshani A. Prevalence and potential risk factors of female sexual difficulties: An urban Iranian population-based study. J Sex Med 2009;6:2988–2996.