By Megan Rauscher
NEW YORK aPR 06, 2005 (Reuters Health) - Deep infiltrating endometriotic lesions of the uterosacral ligament often severely impair sexual health and functioning, according to a study conducted in Italy.
Dr. Simone Ferrero and colleagues from San Martino Hospital, University of Genoa, evaluated the sexual function of 299 women undergoing surgery for infertility, pelvic pain or adnexal masses. One hundred seventy had endometriosis and 129 did not (the controls).
As expected, the prevalence of deep dyspareunia was significantly higher among women with endometriosis (60.6%) relative to controls (34.9%), the authors report in the March issue of Fertility and Sterility.
"Interestingly," primary deep dyspareunia was much more common in women with endometriosis (57.3%) than in controls (37.8%) and "more than 50% of women with endometriosis have had deep dyspareunia during their entire sex lives."
It's also "interesting that communication about sex with the partner was significantly compromised in women with endometriosis," Dr. Ferrero noted in comments to Reuters Health.
The final study population with deep dyspareunia included 96 women with endometriosis -- 76 with and 20 without deep infiltrating endometriosis of the uterosacral ligament -- and 40 controls.
According to the study findings, women with deep infiltrating endometriosis of the uterosacral ligament had intercourse less often and had less satisfying orgasms, more frequent interruption of intercourse due to pain and felt less relaxed and fulfilled after intercourse, compared with the other two groups.
"Surprisingly," Dr. Ferrero said, "the presence of mono- or bilateral endometriotic lesions on the uterosacral ligaments did not affect the intensity of pain and the severity of sexual life impairment."
This is the first study to describe the abnormalities in sexual function of women with deep endometriotic lesions on the uterosacral ligament, according to Dr. Ferrero.
Several studies have shown that radical excision of endometriotic lesions can lessen the intensity of deep dyspareunia and improve the quality of sexual activity in these women, the investigators note in their report.
Fertility and Sterility 2005;83:573-579.