The association between fibromyalgia and female sexual dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies


Female sexuality in patients with fibromyalgia has received little attention in the literature, and published data have mainly relied upon a small sample size with evident heterogeneity. Our aim was to pool the observational studies on the association between fibromyalgia and sexual dysfunction in female patients to reach a more comprehensive and reliable result. The literature search comprised of Pubmed-Medline, Cochrane, and Embase databases. The relevant studies that met the inclusion criteria were gathered and the pooled effect size was calculated. The standard mean difference of the global sexual function score as well as the sub-items scores were calculated using the random-effect size model. Sensitivity analysis was conducted. Publication bias was assessed using Funnel plots and Begg and Mazumdar rank correlation tests. The meta-analysis was conducted in accordance with the MOOSE guideline. The six selected studies contained 919 participants (ranging from 51 to 362). Of those, 578 were patients with fibromyalgia, and 341 were the controls. While four studies evaluated the sexual function using the female sexual function index (FSFI) questionnaire, two used changes in the sexual functioning questionnaire (CSFQ). Patients with fibromyalgia had a decreased total sexual function score [(−5.02 (−7.58 to −2.46), p< 0.0001; Q = 664.28; p-value for heterogeneity = p < 0.0001; I2 = 99.24%)]. All sexual response cycle domains including desire, arousal, orgasm, pain, lubrication, and satisfaction were found detrimental in patients with fibromyalgia compared with the healthy controls. For the sensitivity analysis, omitting any one of the six studies did not produce a significant difference in the original pooled summary effect size. Our meta-analysis provided a clear association between female sexual dysfunction and fibromyalgia, suggesting patients with fibromyalgia should be assessed regarding sexual health, although further, well designed longitudinal studies are needed to establish the causality between fibromyalgia and female sexual dysfunction.

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No research support or funding was received in connection with this study. The authors have no significant affiliation or involvement, either direct or indirect, with any organization or entity with a direct financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed.

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Category 1: (a) Conception and design: Dursun M, Besiroglu H. (b) Acquisition of data: Besiroglu H, Dursun M. (c) Analysis and interpretation of data: Besiroglu H, Dursun M. Category 2: (a) Drafting the article. Besiroglu H. (b) Revising it for intellectual content: Besiroglu H, Dursun M. Category 3: (a) Final approval of the completed article: Dursun M.

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Correspondence to M. D. Huseyin Besiroglu.

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Besiroglu, M.D.H., Dursun, M.D.M. The association between fibromyalgia and female sexual dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Int J Impot Res 31, 288–297 (2019).

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