The Impairment of Sexual Function Is Less Distressing for Menopausal than for Premenopausal Women


  • [Correction added after online publication 14-Jan-2010: Dr. Martelli has been added to the author listing.]

Marta Berra, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, S. Orsola Hospital, Via Massarenti 13, 40138 Bologna, Italy. Tel: +39 051 6363716; Fax: +39 0516363716; E-mail:


Introduction.  Menopause requires psychological and physical adjustments because of the occurring significant hormonal changes. Sexuality is one of the aspects that undergoes the most profound modifications. Preliminary data suggest that sometimes women do not regard sexual changes as problematic and often readjust their life and relationship according to their new physical status.

Aim.  The aim of our study was to evaluate sexual function and the way women feel by comparing healthy postmenopausal and premenopausal women.

Methods.  One hundred menopausal (M) and 100 premenopausal (pM) healthy women were asked to complete anonymous questionnaires to assess sexual function and stress related to sexual activity.

Main Outcome Measures.  Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), Female Sexual Distress Scale (FSDS) were completed by M and pM women.

Results.  Medium FSFI score was 20.5 ± 9.6 and 26.4 ± 7.7 (P < 0.0005) and medium FSDS score was 12.1 ± 11.7 (95% CI 9.7–14.4) and 11.3 ± 10.2 (P = 0.917) for M and pM women, respectively. Twenty-five of the 69 M women and 20 of the 31 pM women with a pathological score in the FSFI questionnaire scored higher than 15 in the FSDS (P < 0.0005). The overall prevalence of sexual dysfunction was 20% and 25% (P = 0.5) in the M and pM women.

Conclusions.  Our data confirm that menopause is associated with changes in sexual function that may be compatible with sexual dysfunction. However, personal distress caused by these changes in sexual life appears to be lower among menopausal women (36.2%) as compared with premenopausal women (64.5%). These data suggest that medical treatment for sexual health in menopause must be highly personalized and carefully prescribed. Berra M, De Musso F, Matteucci C, Martelli V, Perrone AM, Pelusi C, Pelusi G, and Meriggiola MC. The impairment of sexual function is less distressing for menopausal than for premenopausal women. J Sex Med 2010;7:1209–1215.