Sexual Function and Distress in Women Treated for Primary Headaches in a Tertiary University Center

Authors

  • Rossella E. Nappi MD, PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Research Centre for Reproductive Medicine, Section of Obstetrics and Gynecology, IRCCS S. Matteo Foundation, Department of Morphological, Eidological and Clinical Sciences, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
    2. University Consortium for Adaptive Disorders and Head Pain (UCADH), University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
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  • Erica Terreno MD,

    1. Research Centre for Reproductive Medicine, Section of Obstetrics and Gynecology, IRCCS S. Matteo Foundation, Department of Morphological, Eidological and Clinical Sciences, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
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  • Cristina Tassorelli MD, PhD,

    1. University Consortium for Adaptive Disorders and Head Pain (UCADH), University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
    2. Headache Science Centre, IRCCS C. Mondino National Institute of Neurology Foundation, Pavia, Italy
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  • Grazia Sances MD,

    1. Headache Science Centre, IRCCS C. Mondino National Institute of Neurology Foundation, Pavia, Italy
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  • Marta Allena MD,

    1. Headache Science Centre, IRCCS C. Mondino National Institute of Neurology Foundation, Pavia, Italy
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  • Elena Guaschino MD,

    1. Headache Science Centre, IRCCS C. Mondino National Institute of Neurology Foundation, Pavia, Italy
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  • Fabio Antonaci MD, PhD,

    1. University Consortium for Adaptive Disorders and Head Pain (UCADH), University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
    2. Headache Medicine Centre, Department of Neuroscience, Polyclinic of Monza, Monza, Italy
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  • Francesca Albani MD,

    1. Department of Internal Medicine and Endocrinology, IRCCS Maugeri Foundation, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
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  • Franco Polatti MD

    1. Research Centre for Reproductive Medicine, Section of Obstetrics and Gynecology, IRCCS S. Matteo Foundation, Department of Morphological, Eidological and Clinical Sciences, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
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Rossella E. Nappi, MD, PhD, Research Centre for Reproductive Medicine, Section of Obstetrics and Gynecology, IRCCS S. Matteo Foundation, Department of Morphological, Eidological and Clinical Sciences, University of Pavia, Pavia 27220, Italy. Tel: 39-0382-526215; Fax: +39 0382 423233; E-mail: renappi@tin.it

ABSTRACT

Introduction.  Primary headaches are common in women and impact on their quality of life and psychosocial functioning. Few data are available on sexuality in female headache sufferers.

Aim.  An observational pilot study was conducted to assess sexual function and distress in women treated for primary headaches in a tertiary university center.

Methods.  From a total of 194 women consecutively observed over a 3-month period, 100 patients were recruited. Migraine with and without aura, and tension-type headache, both episodic and chronic (CTTH), were diagnosed according to the International Classification of Headache Disorders. A detailed pharmacological history was collected, and anxiety and depression were assessed using validated scales. The Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) and Female Sexual Distress Scale-Revised were administered.

Main Outcome Measures.  The main outcome measures are sexual symptoms and distress in women treated for primary headaches.

Results.  More than 90% of the women had a median FSFI full-scale score under the validated cutoff, while 29% reported sexual distress. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) was diagnosed in 20% of the women and the pain domain score (median 2, score range 0–6) was highly affected by the head pain condition. However, the FSFI domain and full-scale scores did not significantly differ by headache diagnosis. The women with CTTH displayed a high rate of sexual distress (45.5%) and a strong negative correlation between desire, arousal, and full-scale FSFI score and number analgesics/month (r: −0.77, P = 0.006; r: −0.76, P = 0.006; and r: −0.68, P = 0.02, respectively). Depression was positively correlated with sexual distress (r: 0.63, P = 0.001) only in the women with CTTH.

Conclusion.  Women treated for primary headaches were found to display a high rate of sexual symptoms and distress. Both migraine and tension-type headache were associated with sexual pain and HSDD, but women with CTTH seem to be more prone to develop sexual distress. Nappi RE, Terreno E, Tassorelli C, Sances G, Allena M, Guaschino E, Antonaci F, Albani F, and Polatti F. Sexual function and distress in women treated for primary headaches in a tertiary university center. J Sex Med 2012;9:761–769.

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