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Research Exposes Sexual Dysfunction Rates in Schizophrenia

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A new meta-analysis conducted by a multinational team of researchers has shed light on the concerning prevalence of sexual dysfunction among individuals with schizophrenia.

The study reveals that both men and women with schizophrenia commonly experience various forms of sexual dysfunctions, including erectile dysfunction, loss of libido, and orgasm dysfunction. This research, led by Dr. Theo Korchia from Assistance Publique-Hopitaux de Marseille and Aix-Marseille University in France, not only highlights the extent of sexual health disruption in this population but also explores potential factors contributing to these issues.

 

Schizophrenia’s Impact on Dopamine D2 Receptors

 

One of the prominent factors contributing to sexual dysfunction in individuals with schizophrenia is the disease’s inhibition of dopamine D2 receptors. This pathophysiological factor has long been associated with disruptions in sexual health. Additionally, antipsychotic medications, commonly prescribed for schizophrenia, can independently induce sexual dysfunctions due to adverse effects such as blunted affect, anhedonia, and other pharmacological actions.

 

Methodology and Data Synthesis

 

The researchers conducted a systematic literature review, analyzing studies published up to June 8, 2022, to identify relevant observational studies reporting sexual dysfunction in patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. A total of 72 studies published between 1979 and 2021 met the inclusion criteria, providing valuable insights into various aspects of sexual dysfunction in this population.

 

Key Findings

 

The meta-analysis included data from 21,076 patients across 33 countries and 6 continents. The pooled estimate of sexual dysfunction prevalence among individuals with schizophrenia was found to be remarkably high at 56.4%. Specific forms of sexual dysfunction were also prevalent:

 

Loss of libido was reported in 40.6% of cases.

Orgasm dysfunction was experienced by 28.0% of individuals.

Genital pain was observed in 6.1% of cases.

Among men with schizophrenia, the prevalence of sexual dysfunction was estimated at 55.7%, with 44.0% experiencing erectile dysfunction and 38.6% reporting ejaculation dysfunction.

 

Among women with schizophrenia, the prevalence of sexual dysfunction was even higher, with an estimated 60.0% experiencing issues. Of this group, 25.1% reported amenorrhea, and 7.7% had galactorrhea.

 

Antidepressants and Mood Stabilizers as Potential Factors

 

Interestingly, the meta-analysis found an association between the use of antidepressants or mood stabilizers and reduced rates of some forms of sexual dysfunction. Studies including participants treated with these medications showed lower prevalence rates of erectile and ejaculation dysfunctions and loss of libido. Additionally, the percentage of patients treated with antidepressants and mood stabilizers correlated with decreased rates of these sexual dysfunctions.

 

Implications and Future Directions

 

This comprehensive meta-analysis underscores the alarming frequency of sexual dysfunction among individuals with schizophrenia. While methodological discrepancies and heterogeneity in outcomes exist, the evidence suggests that improving the screening and treatment of depression may be an effective strategy to enhance sexual health in this population. The researchers also emphasize the importance of systematic health assessment in sexual dysfunction studies to better understand the complex associations between sexual dysfunction and metabolic parameters.

 

In conclusion, this research sheds light on an important aspect of schizophrenia’s impact on patients’ lives and underscores the need for comprehensive care that addresses both mental health and sexual health issues in this population.

M Moiz
M Moiz
M Moiz, is Research Student at Islamabad research Institute and work with THE THINK TANK JOURNAL

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