#CMSC16 – Sexual Dysfunction in Hispanic MS Patients Exists with Other Issues, Study Shows

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Sexual dysfunction correlates with depression and bladder dysfunction in Hispanic patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to the results of a recent study presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC).

The study, “Sexual Dysfunction and Its Correlation to Depression and Bladder Dysfunction in Hispanics with Multiple Sclerosis,” was presented at the session Psychosocial: Cognition, Depression.

MS patients often experience sexual dysfunction, but the complication goes largely underdiagnosed and undertreated for the majority of them. A previous study estimated that 73.1% of patients with MS experience sexual dysfunction. The number is significantly lower in healthy individuals – 15.4% in males and 11.2% in females.

A group of researchers supported by the pharmaceutical company Novartis has determined the percentage of Hispanic MS patients who experience sexual dysfunction among a clinical cohort. Researchers determined sexual dysfunction categories in the cohort, and if there is an association between disease-modifying therapies and bladder dysfunction or depression which are reported to aggravate sexual dysfunction in MS patients.

The team performed a retrospective analysis of 477 questionnaires submitted by patients to the Puerto Rico Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (from 2002 to 2008).

The questionnaires included information about patients’ potential sexual dysfunction, bladder dysfunction, depression and use of disease-modifying therapies. Questionnaire analysis also included reported symptoms and relationships; and patients’ ages and genders.

From the 477 questionnaires, 80% (382) came from women and 20% (95) came from men. In total, 23% of the questionnaires (111) reported sexual dysfunction, with 71% (79 questionnaires) from women, while only 29% (32) belonged to men.

Depression was reported in 53.4% (255) of total questionnaires, and bladder dysfunction was accounted in 45% (215). Among patients with sexual dysfunction, 56.8% (63) also reported bladder dysfunction.

The presence of three morbidities – sexual, bladder dysfunction, and depression – was accounted in 42.3% (47) patients. Only 19.8% (22) of patients who reported sexual dysfunction did not report other comorbidity.

MS duration was longer in patients with reported sexual dysfunction, when compared to those without it – 7.8 years versus 5.8 years, respectively.

Adjusting the findings for patients sex only, researchers observed that patients with bladder dysfunction and depression were 3.4 times more likely to experience sexual dysfunction. This was not observed when researchers adjusted for age and MS duration.

In conclusion, the results suggest that sexual dysfunction is a complication that significantly impacts the Hispanic MS patients’ quality of life. The study supports the evaluation of sexual dysfunction in MS patients with depression or bladder dysfunction, or both.

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Patricia holds her Ph.D. in Cell Biology from University Nova de Lisboa, and has served as an author on several research projects and fellowships, as well as major grant applications for European Agencies. She also served as a PhD student research assistant in the Laboratory of Doctor David A. Fidock, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Columbia University, New York.
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