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McCool-Myers, Megan; Theurich, Melissa; Zuelke, Andrea; Knuettel, Helge; Apfelbacher, Christian (2018): Predictors of female sexual dysfunction: a systematic review and qualitative analysis through gender inequality paradigms. In: BMC Womens Health 18:108


Background: Female sexual dysfunction affects 41% of reproductive-age women worldwide, making it a highly prevalent medical issue. Predictors of female sexual dysfunction are multifaceted and vary from country to country. A synthesis of potential risk factors and protective factors may aid healthcare practitioners in identifying populations at risk, in addition to revealing modifiable factors to prevent sexual dysfunction among reproductive-age women. Methods: Observational studies which assessed the prevalence and predictors of female sexual dysfunction in reproductive-age women were systematically sought in relevant databases (2000-2014). Significant predictors were extracted from each included publication. A qualitative analysis of predictors was performed with a focus on types of sexual regimes and level of human development. Results: One hundred thirty-five studies from 41 countries were included in the systematic review. The types of predictors varied according to the location of the study, the type of sexual regime and the level of gender inequality in that country/region. Consistently significant risk factors of female sexual dysfunction were: poor physical health, poor mental health, stress, abortion, genitourinary problems, female genital mutilation, relationship dissatisfaction, sexual abuse, and being religious. Consistently significant protective factors included: older age at marriage, exercising, daily affection, intimate communication, having a positive body image, and sex education. Some factors however had an unclear effect: age, education, employment, parity, being in a relationship, frequency of sexual intercourse, race, alcohol consumption, smoking and masturbation. Conclusions: The sexual and reproductive lives of women are highly impacted by female sexual dysfunction, and a number of biological, psychological and social factors play a role in the prevalence of sexual dysfunction. Healthcare professionals who work with women should be aware of the many risk factors for reproductive-age women. Future prevention strategies should aim to address modifiable factors, e.g. physical activity and access to sex education;international efforts in empowering women should continue.