Postmenopausal women who experience an absence of sexual desire are likely to suffer depression and other physical symptoms like back pain and memory problems, a new study has said.
The study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Procter and Gamble Pharmaceuticals found that females with low levels of sexual desire, often as a result of menopause, are more likely to be sad and have a bad health than women who report higher levels of desire.
The study has been published in "Value in Health," the official journal of the International Society of Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research.
According to researchers, women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) reported poorer health status and worse health-related quality of life than women without the disorder.
Hypoactive sexual desire disorder is defined as the persistent lack of sexual desire causing marked stress or interpersonal difficulties.
The study shows that women with the disorder have a degree of physical and mental impairment comparable to chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, osteoarthritis and asthma, researchers say.
"Our research shows that HSDD is a significant and clinically relevant problem, and not a normal or inevitable part of the aging process," said Andrea K. Biddle, Ph.D., associate professor of health policy and management at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
"Women with the disorder experience health burdens similar to individuals with serious chronic conditions," the expert added.
The study was based on telephone interviews with 1,189 postmenopausal women. Using quality of life surveys, researchers asked women about their levels of sexual desire and feelings of physical and emotional well-being or distress.
Results showed that women with the disorder were more likely to be depressed and to express dissatisfaction with their home lives and their sexual partners. Surgically menopausal women (women who underwent menopause by having their ovaries removed) were slightly more likely to have the disorder than women who underwent menopause naturally.