Sexual Function in Women with Type 1 Diabetes Matched with a Control Group: Depressive and Psychosocial Aspects


Milena Tagliabue, MD, University of Turin, Department of Medicine, SCDU Endocrinology, Diabetology and Metabolism, Torino, Italy. Tel: +39 011.6335593; Fax: +39 011.6647421; E-mail:


Introduction.  Sexual dysfunction in women with diabetes, despite its important consequences to their quality of life, has been investigated only recently with conflicting results about its prevalence and association with complications and psychological factors.

Aims.  To assess the prevalence of the alteration of sexual function and the influence of metabolic control and psychological factors on female sexuality.

Methods.  Seventy-seven adult Italian women with type 1 diabetes, matched with a control group (n = 77), completed questionnaires evaluating sexual function (Female Sexual Function Index, FSFI), depressive symptoms (Self-Rating Depression Scale, SRDS), social and family support (Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support), and diabetes-related quality of life (Diabetes Quality of Life). Clinical and metabolic data were collected.

Main Outcome Measures.  Prevalence and magnitude of sexual dysfunction in terms of alteration of sexual functioning as measured by the FSFI scores.

Results.  The prevalence of sexual dysfunction was similar in diabetes and control groups (33.8% vs. 39.0%, not significant), except for higher SRDS scores in the diabetes group (47.39 ± 11.96 vs. 43.82 ± 10.66; P = 0.047). Diabetic patients with an alteration of sexual function showed a significantly higher SRDS score (53.58 ± 14.11 vs. 44.24± 9.38, P = 0.004). Depression symptoms and good glycemic control (A1C < 7.0%) were predictors of alteration of sexual function only in diabetic patients (odds ratio [OR] = 1.082; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.028–1.140; OR = 5.085; 95% CI: 1.087–23.789), since we have not found any significant predictor of sexual dysfunction in the control group.

Conclusions.  The prevalence of sexual dysfunction in our type 1 diabetes patients' sample is similar to those reported in other studies. Diabetic patients are similar to healthy people except for higher depression scores. Further studies are necessary to understand whether the correlation between an alteration of sexual function and good glycemic control may be related to the role of control as a mental attitude. Tagliabue M, Gottero C, Zuffranieri M, Negro M, Carletto S, Picci RL, Tomelini M, Bertaina S, Pucci E, Trento M, and Ostacoli L. Sexual function in women with type 1 diabetes matched with a control group: Depressive and psychosocial aspects. J Sex Med 2011;8:1694–1700.