Background: Individuals with Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) experience significantly higher levels of sexual dysfunction and sexual distress than healthy controls (van Nimwegen et al., 2015). Identifying associated factors may help to identify a subgroup of patients with SS who may benefit from early intervention to maintain sexual wellbeing and avoid unnecessary sexual disruption. Objectives: To explore and map the salient symptoms and factors that influence alterations in sexual functioning and intimate relationships for people with SS. Methods: The protocol for this review was registered with the Open Science Framework prior to commencement of the searches. The peer-reviewed search strings were used to search the following databases from inception to June 2019: Cochrane Library, CINAHL [EBSCO], MEDLINE [ProQuest], PUBMED [MEDLINE], ScienceDirect, Scopus and Web of Science. Grey literature was searched for on academic databases, topic-specific repositories, and Google Scholar. Databases were searched using key terms corresponding to sexual functioning and intimate relationships. Studies were included if their participant sample was comprised of adults aged ≥18 years, with a diagnosis of primary or secondary SS. Studies were not excluded based on source type, methodology or design. To qualify for inclusion, studies needed to have been peer-reviewed and available in English. Retrieved articles were then screened against the inclusion/exclusion criteria by two reviewers. Hand-searching was conducted on the reference lists of included articles, as well as the three most prevalent publishing journals until saturation had been achieved. Results: The search strategy returned 3527 unique citations. After screening processes were completed, only 19 articles met the inclusion criteria. Studies were predominately conducted in European countries (79%), within the last decade (68%; 2010-2019), and were mainly quantitative (n = 17; 89.5%), case-controlled (88.3%), and cross-sectional (100%) in nature. In total there were 1281 patients, 47% (n = 605) were patients with primary SS and the remaining 53% (n = 676) were patients with secondary SS. Both patient groups were predominately comprised of females (n = 600; 99% and n = 673; 99.5%, respectively), with a combined mean age of 50.82 years (M ranges = 35 – 62.82 years). An amalgamation of results from 17 studies, found that women with SS who score higher on the ESSPRI scale (total score and the subdomains of pain, fatigue and dryness) were more likely to experience significantly greater levels of vaginal dryness, sexual dysfunction and sexual distress. Moreover, women with SS who present with clinical levels of anxiety or depression were also more likely to experience disruptions in their sexual functioning and appraise their sexual life more negatively. Furthermore, patients who report greater severity of oral or ocular dryness, or dyspareunia may experience vaginal dryness, which may have ramifications on sexual functioning. Women of all ages are at risk of experiencing sexual dysfunctions, however, younger women (≤50 years) may experience more burdensome disruptions than older women. Finally, women who do not use lubrication products during sexual activity may be impacted further. Conclusion: Younger women (≤50) with SS who present with more severe symptoms of fatigue, pain, and oral or ocular dryness, or with clinical levels of anxiety or depression, may be at increased risk of experiencing sexual dysfunction and sexual distress. Healthcare professionals should be aware of these potential risk factors and initiate conversations around sexuality as and when a potentially ‘at risk’ individual is identified. References: van Nimwegen, J. F., Arends, S., van Zuiden, G. S., Vissink, A., Kroese, F. G. M., & Bootsma, H. (2015). The impact of primary Sjögren’s syndrome on female sexual function. Rheumatology, 54(7), 1286-1293.
|Journal||Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases|
|Issue number||Suppl 1|
|Publication status||Published - 19 May 2021|
|Event||EULAR European Congress of Rheumatology 2021 - Online|
Duration: 2 Jun 2021 → 5 Jun 2021