Research Article| Volume 49, ISSUE 2, P124-133, October 15, 2004

Endogenous estrogen levels affect sexual function in elderly post-menopausal women

  • Katharina Modelska
    Corresponding author. Present address: 4560 Horton Street, M/S U-140, Emeryville, CA 94608-2916, USA. Tel.: +1-510-923-5834; fax: +1-510-923-3450.
    UCSF Coordinating Center, Department of Medicine, Prevention Sciences Group, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, CA, USA
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  • Stephanie Litwack
    UCSF Coordinating Center, Department of Medicine, Prevention Sciences Group, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, CA, USA
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  • Susan K. Ewing
    UCSF Coordinating Center, Department of Medicine, Prevention Sciences Group, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, CA, USA
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  • Kristine Yaffe
    UCSF Coordinating Center, Department of Medicine, Prevention Sciences Group, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, CA, USA
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      Objective: The objective of this study was to determine if there is an association between endogenous serum concentration of estradiol (E2) and changes in sexual function in post-menopausal women over 3 years. Methods: Sexually active women (N=345, mean age=65 years) who participated in the multiple outcomes of raloxifene evaluation trial (MORE) had endogenous E2 levels measured at baseline. All women completed the sexual history questionnaire at baseline and 3 years later. We assessed sexual function (desire, activity, feelings/experiences and sexual problems) among these women by endogenous E2 level (<20 pmol/l or ≥20 pmol/l). Results: At baseline, women with E2 levels <20 pmol/l had significantly greater discomfort and inability to relax compared with women with E2 ≥20 pmol/l (P<0.05 for all). After 3 years, women with E2 ≥20 pmol/l had significantly less decline in sexual enjoyment (P<0.02), satisfaction (P<0.02), sexual comfort (P<0.05) and sexual feelings summary score (P=0.001), when compared with women who had E2 levels <20 pmol/l. Conclusions: Endogenous E2 levels are important predictors of change in sexual function in elderly women who are sexually active. However, this result needs to be proven in a study with a bigger sample size of sexually active women, who present with changes in sexual function over several years. Also, future investigations are needed to assess the effects of other endogenous hormones on sexual function in elderly women.


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