The impact on sexual function of chronic pain conditions has received little research inquiry and requires much more focused clinical attention.
In the management of chronic pain, the primary goal is to maximize the patient’s level of functioning; usually the focus is on the ability to perform at work or school or to accomplish household chores.
One important area of life for many people, however, is often overlooked by healthcare professionals: sexual functioning.
A recent systematic review published in Pain Medicine examined the current research on how chronic musculoskeletal pain may affect sexual functioning.* The review included studies of patients with pain persisting for ≥3 months and sexual difficulty before any intervention. Studies were excluded if participants had other disorders, such as diabetes, that could impact sexual function or where the pain disorder was located in the sexual organs.
The slide show below offers the review's top-line findings.
Reference: Katz H, Newton-John TRO, Shires, A. Sexual difficulties in the population with musculoskeletal chronic pain: a systematic review. Pain Med. 2021;22:1982-1992.