Assessing sexual dysfunction among stroke survivors and barriers to address this issue by physicians at a Latin American reference hospital

V. Montalvan, A. K. Ulrich, D. L. Tirschwell, J. R. Zunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Sexual dysfunction affects at least one half of patients after a stroke. Problems related to sexual function are rarely assessed or addressed by physicians. Objective: To determine the frequency and factors associated with sexual dysfunction among stroke survivors and self-reported barriers of physicians to discuss sexual dysfunction during regular consultation. Methods: We administered a questionnaire to a cross-sectional sample of stroke survivors to assess the frequency and factors associated with sexual dysfunction and the aspects of sexuality most commonly affected by stroke in a reference hospital in Peru. A qualitative approach was used to determine the willingness to address sexual issues and related barriers among neurology physicians participating in the study. Results: Among 150 patients, sexual dysfunction was identified in 89 (59%). Only 10% self-reported their sexual function as optimal. Markedly decreased frequency of sexual encounters (49%) and markedly decreased sexual desire (33%) were the aspects of sexual function most commonly reported by patients after a stroke. Fear of having a new stroke [OR:3.2, 95% CI (1.5–6.3)], depression [OR:2.1, 95% CI (1.0–4.3)], and self-perception of having impaired motor function [OR:2.5, 95% CI (1.2–5.0)] were significantly associated with sexual dysfunction. In the qualitative assessment of physicians (N = 15), when asked how often they addressed sexual aspects during regular consultation with a stroke survivor, none answered “very often”, and only 8 (51%) answered “sometimes”. At the end of the study, 10 (66%) physicians verbalized the perception that addressing this issue encouraged their patents to be more open to personal concerns and prompted a stronger doctor-patient relationship. Conclusion: Sexual dysfunction affected more than a half of stroke survivors, and was significantly associated with depression, fear of having a new stroke, and with the self-perception of impaired motor function. Addressing sexual issues during the regular consult by physicians was infrequent. Barriers reported by physicians included limited time during regular consultation and the belief that this issue should be addressed under the scope of other specialties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106642
JournalClinical Neurology and Neurosurgery
Early online dateApr 20 2021
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number D43 TW009137 .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


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