An Internet Survey of Demographic and Health Factors Associated with Risk of Sexual Dysfunction in Women Who Have Sex with Women

Alan W Shindel, Tami S. Rowen, Tzu Chun Lin, Chin-Shang Li, Patricia A. Robertson, Benjamin N. Breyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Introduction. There has been scant attention to predictors of sexual dysfunction in women who have sex with women (WSW). Aim. To investigate the associations of high risk for sexual dysfunction in an Internet cohort of WSW. Main Outcome Measure. A modified version of the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) was used to quantify each subject's sexual function. Methods. Women who have sex with women were invited to participate in an Internet-based survey by invitations posted on e-mail listservs and on social media sites catering to WSW. Ethnodemographic, health status, and sexual/relationship data were collected. Results. The study was completed by 2,433 adult women. Of these, 1,566 participants had complete data on the FSFI and comprised the study cohort; 388 (24.8%) met the FSFI criteria for high risk of female sexual dysfunction (HRFSD). On multivariable analysis, the following variables were found to be independently associated with the HRFSD; moderate or severe subjective bother regarding sexual function (OR 4.8, 95% CI 3.0-7.9 and 13.7, 95% CI 7.5-25.1, respectively), overactive bladder (OAB) (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.0-4.5), having a nonfemale or no partner (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.1-4.7 and 3.2, 95% CI 2.0-5.2, respectively). A history of pregnancy was associated with lower odds of HRFSD (OR 0.567, 95% CI 0.37-0.87). Mean FSFI domain scores for all domains except desire were negatively impacted by partner factors and OAB. Conclusions. A single-item question on sexual bother is strongly predictive of potentially distressing sexual problems in the WSW. A number of health and social factors are associated with risk of sexual problems in the WSW. Assessment of sexual well-being in the WSW is a priority for practicing healthcare providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1261-1271
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Bisexual
  • Female sexual dysfunction
  • Gay women
  • Homosexual
  • Lesbian
  • Women who have sex with women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Reproductive Medicine


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