How Fibromyalgia May Impact Sexual Function

How Fibromyalgia May Impact Sexual Function

Fibromyalgia syndrome is a medical condition that causes widespread pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and other cognitive and physical symptoms, greatly affecting a person’s quality of life.

A new study focused on sexual dysfunction in Spanish women with fibromyalgia, comparing it to individuals without fibromyalgia. Previous research has shown that there is a higher prevalence of sexual dysfunction in people with fibromyalgia.

Physical activity is known to improve sexual dysfunction in the general population, so the researchers decided to explore its impact on sexual dysfunction in women with fibromyalgia. Understanding these relationships is important for better sexual dysfunction prevention and intervention strategies.

A total of 170 Spanish women participated in this study (88 with fibromyalgia, 82 without) to determine rates of sexual dysfunction and the possible impact of physical activity. The Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), a questionnaire for measuring women’s sexual function, was used to measure sexual dysfunction.

Physical activity levels, on the other hand, were assessed based on World Health Organization criteria. Then, statistical analyses were used to compare the groups and the relationships between fibromyalgia, sexual dysfunction, and physical activity.

In the study, both groups of women were similar in age and body mass index, and there were no significant differences in the groups’ smoking habits, marital status, or number of live births.

Nevertheless, the results of the study showed that women with fibromyalgia had significantly lower scores in all aspects of sexual function (desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain) compared to healthy women.

Additionally, the women with fibromyalgia had lower overall FSFI scores than the women in the control group. In fact, the risk of sexual dysfunction was 8.6 times higher in women with fibromyalgia. Physical activity had varying effects on sexual function in women with fibromyalgia, but those who regularly engaged in physical activity still had poorer FSFI scores than the healthy women who regularly engaged in physical activity and even those who did not.

There are several key takeaways from this study for patients with fibromyalgia. First, the results showed a high prevalence of sexual dysfunction in women with fibromyalgia, affecting various aspects of sexual health, including desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain during intercourse. Over 85% of the fibromyalgia patients were below the cutoff point for sexual dysfunction in this study.

The study also explored potential explanations for higher sexual dysfunction in fibromyalgia patients. Factors such as medications (antidepressants or psychotropic drugs) and physical and psychological aspects (pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression) associated with fibromyalgia were identified as potential contributors to sexual dysfunction.

Contrary to expectations, regular physical activity did not significantly alter the overall sexual dysfunction scores of women with fibromyalgia. Both active and non-active fibromyalgia patients exhibited similar total sexual dysfunction scores, suggesting that physical activity alone may not be sufficient in improving sexual health for these individuals.

Therefore, while regular physical activity may be a strategy, additional interventions, such as specialized pelvic floor physiotherapy, may be more effective for addressing sexual dysfunction in women with fibromyalgia. As such, fibromyalgia patients should consider incorporating diverse interventions into their lives to enhance their overall well-being.


  • Mollà-Casanova, S., Muñoz-Gómez, E., Sempere-Rubio, N., Inglés, M., Aguilar-Rodríguez, M., Moreno-Cervera, N., & Serra-Añó, P. (2023). Fibromyalgia syndrome is associated with sexual dysfunction regardless of physical activity status: a cross-sectional study. The Journal of Sexual Medicine20(11), 1285-1291.

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