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Increased risk of sexual dysfunction among unemployed women: a systematic review

Jabat, MJ1; Garcia, DG2; Ajdacic-Gross, VAG1; Seifritz, ES1

1: Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Psychiatric Hospital, University of Zurich, Militärstrasse 8, 8004 Zurich; 2: Center of Gender Variance, University Hospital Basel, Spitalstrasse 21, 4031 Basel.

Introduction. Sexual difficulties and sexual dysfunctions are particularly prevalent among psychiatric patients. The etiology of these problems is frequently multifactorial and includes both somatic and psychological factors. In addition, there is a clear link between the social status and the occurrence of sexual complaints in men. However, there is little known about the influence of the social status on female sexuality. Due to the social changes induced by the sexual revolutions of the 20th century, we assume that social status and especially work ability affects the sexual quality of life among women.

Aim. To determine the association of unemployment and sexual dysfunction among women.

Methods. We performed a review of the PubMed and Cochrane Library according to the PRISMA statement. Two investigators systematically and independently examined all reports. Eligible articles examined the association between social factors and sexual difficulties and dysfunctions in women. After the screening process twenty-four publications were definitely included. 

Results. Nine studies showed that unemployment is an independent predictor on the development of sexual dysfunction among women. Differences appeared between conducted clinical and population based samples. Two of the population based studies showed no effect of unemployment among female sexual function whereas two did in combination with low education and lower income. All studies had in common that the incidence of sexual dysfunction increased with advancing age. The great majority of women did not sought medical help for any sexual problems.

Conclusion. Unemployment affects sexual function in women. Clinicians should be aware of this aspect. Further studies are necessary to better understand the underlying mechanisms.


Work supported by industry: no.

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