More women than men experience sexual problems after a heart attack, a new study finds.
University of Chicago researchers looked at data from 2,802 relatively heart attack survivors who were part of a study designed to look gender differences between men and women. The study included 1,889 women. At all points during the study, 40.4 percent of the women and 54.9 percent of the men described themselves as sexually active.
More than half of women and less than half of men (59 vs. 46 percent) reported sexual function problems in the year after a heart attack, the study shows. This means that impaired sexual function or new problems occur at about the same rate as loss of physical function, and more often than depression, but rarely do healthcare providers address these topics – especially among women, the research finds.
Also, among people who were sexually active before and after the heart attack, women were less likely than men to report no sexual function problems in the following year (40.3 vs. 54.8 percent.) In addition, more women than men who had experienced no sexual problems before their heart attack developed one or more during the year after it.
Both men and women cited lack of sexual interest as their most common problem. Women also said they had problems lubricating and men complained of erectile difficulties, the study found.
"Too often physicians and researchers are too embarrassed to ask questions about sexual health, and yet these issues are important to many people," said Dr. Harlan Krumholz, one of the study’s authors.
"We need to concern ourselves with gaining knowledge about how to help our patients achieve a high quality of life in all aspects of their lives,” he added, of the study, which appears in JAMA Cardiology.
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