Changes in sexual functioning in women of reproductive age with infertility and diminished ovarian reserve
Androgens play a key role in the physiology of the female body and the reproductive system. Androgen receptor expression in the various tissues points to the importance of androgens in the regulation of the female sexual and social functioning. The study aimed to evaluate sexual functioning in women with infertility and diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) using the Female Sexual Functioning Index questionnaire (FSFI). A cross-sectional study of 496 patients with infertility and DOR assessed the degree of sexual dysfunction in conjunction with the changes in the androgenic profiles as indicated by the androstenedione levels in the blood serum. Women with infertility and DOR were significantly more likely to report changes in sexual functioning, including a decrease in libido and in the quality and frequency of sexual relations. Furthermore, patients with normal androstenedione levels generally significantly outscored patients with decreased androstenedione levels (average questionnaire scores 21.2 ± 7.2 and 15.17 ± 3.0 respectively), indicating a lesser degree of sexual dysfunction in the former group; on the other hand, the latter group reported increased pain and decreased attraction, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction. Hormonal profile changes in patients with DOR, including decreased androstenedione levels, significantly impact sexual functioning, and their detection in clinical practice will allow to objectify complaints at an earlier state in order to assess the severity of sexual dysfunction and determine further personalized management tactics.
Keywords: diminished ovarian reserve, questionnaire, androgens, androgen deficiency, reproductive age, infertility, ART, sexual dysfunction, FSFI