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World J Orthop. Apr 18, 2014; 5(2): 107-111
Published online Apr 18, 2014. doi: 10.5312/wjo.v5.i2.107
Impact of rheumatoid arthritis on sexual function
Antonio G Tristano
Antonio G Tristano, Rheumatology Department, Centro Médico Docente La Trinidad, 1080-A Caracas, Venezuela
Antonio G Tristano, Centro Medico Carpetana, 28025 Madrid, Spain
Author contributions: Tristano AG solely contributed to this paper.
Correspondence to: Antonio G Tristano, MD, MSc, FACP, Centro Medico Carpetana, Manuel Alvarez 3-4, 28025 Madrid, Spain.
Telephone: +34-685-475345 Fax: +34-915-256422
Received: November 25, 2013
Revised: March 7, 2014
Accepted: March 13, 2014
Published online: April 18, 2014

Sexuality is a complex aspect of the human being’s life and is more than just the sexual act. Normal sexual functioning consists of sexual activity with transition through the phases from arousal to relaxation with no problems, and with a feeling of pleasure, fulfillment and satisfaction. Rheumatic diseases may affect all aspects of life including sexual functioning. The reasons for disturbing sexual functioning are multifactorial and comprise disease-related factors as well as therapy. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease characterized by progressive joint destruction resulting from chronic synovial inflammation. It leads to various degrees of disability, and ultimately has a profound impact on the social, economic, psychological, and sexual aspects of the patient’s life. This is a systemic review about the impact of RA on sexual functioning.

Keywords: Sexuality, Sexual functioning, Sexual dysfunction, Rheumatoid arthritis

Core tip: Sexual functioning is a neglected area of quality of life in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) that is not routinely addressed by physicians or health professionals. Sexual functioning is also not part of questionnaires frequently used to assess physical function or quality of life. It is therefore important that physicians or any other health professionals in charge of handling these kinds of patients raise the subject of sexuality and discuss it with them. On the other hand, there are not enough studies comparing sexual functioning between RA patients and healthy controls and the impact of the treatments usually used in RA in improving sexual function. Because of the impact of this chronic inflammatory disease on sexual function and because there are not enough overviews about the impact of rheumatoid arthritis on sexual function, this systematic review is intended to cover this important but underestimated problem.