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Sexuality in women with Parkinson's disease

Movement Disorders

November 1997
Mickie Welsh, Lynn Hung, Dr. Cheryl H. Waters


There is a renewed interest in sexuality in chronic disease states. Whereas there is some literature on male sexuality in Parkinson's disease (PD), no study has been devoted exclusively to women.

We compared 27 women who had PD with community controls matched for age and marital status by using the Brief Index of Sexual Functioning in Women. Approximately 50% of both samples were sexually active. The women with PD were more likely to be dissatisfied with the quality of the sexual experiences.

There were significant differences in the two groups with respect to anxiety or inhibition, vaginal tightness, and involuntary urination. Preoccupation with health problems interfering with sex and dissatisfaction with body appearance were also more prevalent in parkinsonian women, but not statistically different from controls. The PD patients were less satisfied with their sexual relationships and with their partners, and were more depressed as a group when compared with controls (Beck Depression Inventory of 11.8 vs 6.3). In both groups, age was associated with significant changes in satisfaction and activity.

In summary, qualitative differences exist in the sexual experiences of women with PD compared with controls.