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Does Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Carry a Higher Risk of Sexual Dysfunctions?


Goran Arbanas, MD, Psychiatry, General Hospital Karlovac, Andrije Stampara 3b, 47000 Karlovac, Croatia. Tel: 38547411902; Fax: 38547411902; E-mail:


Introduction.  Previous studies have shown that patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have a higher incidence of sexual dysfunction. However, such studies have not examined the influence of traumatic experience on sexual dysfunction.

Aim.  This study was conducted to compare various components of sexual functioning among five groups of males: (i) untreated patients with PTSD; (ii) patients with PTSD treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs); (iii) untreated patients with subthreshold PTSD symptoms; (iv) patients with subthreshold PTSD symptoms treated with SSRIs; and (v) subjects who had suffered a traumatic experience but presented no mental disorder.

Methods.  All participants were evaluated using the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, the Structured Clinical Interview, and the International Index of Erectile Function.

Main Outcome Measures.  Results on individual subscales of the International Index of Erectile Function in men with PTSD symptoms and subthreshold PTSD symptoms, treated and untreated.

Results.  Patients with PTSD did not differ from patients with subthreshold PTSD symptoms in any of the domains of sexual functioning. Differences were found between this group and subjects with no mental disorder only in the domain of sexual desire. Patients with subthreshold PTSD symptoms treated with SSRIs showed better results in all domains of sexual functioning in comparison with those treated with PTSD.

Conclusions.  The results show that patients who suffered a traumatic experience have the same level of sexual functioning (or the same incidence of sexual dysfunction) regardless of the severity of PTSD. Treatment with SSRIs helps reduce sexual problems in patients with subthreshold PTSD symptoms. Arbanas G. Does post-traumatic stress disorder carry a higher risk of sexual dysfunctions? J Sex Med 2010;7:1816–1821.