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Androgen Receptor Polymorphism and Female Sexual Function and Desire

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INTRODUCTION: The effect of testosterone depends on the exposure of and the sensitivity of the androgen receptor (AR). It has been shown that a cytosine-adenine-guanine (CAG) trinucleotide repeat polymorphism in the AR gene has an impact on AR functional capacity in men. However, large studies are lacking on the impact of this polymorphism on female sexual function.

AIM: To determine whether the CAG repeat length was associated with different aspects of women's sexual function and dysfunction, including desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, sexual pain, and sexually related personal distress.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study included 529 healthy women, aged 19-65 years. Participants completed a questionnaire to provide demographic and sexual data. The CAG repeat length was analyzed in a blood sample. The correlations between CAG repeat lengths and different aspects of sexual function were calculated. Independent Student t-tests were performed to evaluate differences in the mean number of CAG repeats in the short and long allele and of the biallelic mean length determined by simple calculation and X-inactivation analysis, respectively, between women with sexual problems and women without sexual problems. P values <.05 were considered statistically significant.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: We used the Female Sexual Function Index, with 6 subdomains, to distinguish between women without and women with impaired sexual function; low sexual desire; impaired arousal, lubrication, or orgasm; diminished satisfaction; or pain during sex. The Female Sexual Distress Scale was used to measure sexually related personal distress.

RESULTS: Overall, we found that increasing numbers of CAG repeats were correlated to increased sexual function. We found that women with problems achieving orgasm had a significantly lower number of CAG repeats than women that reported no problems reaching orgasm. We found no associations between CAG repeat lengths and other aspects of female sexual dysfunction, including hypoactive sexual desire disorder.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: The results could indicate an impact of the AR on women's sexual function, including the ability to reach orgasm.

STRENGTH & LIMITATIONS: This is a large study using validated sexual questionnaires. A limitation is the cross-sectional design. Owing to the study design, this study is explorative and hypothesis generating.

CONCLUSION: In this large cross-sectional study, we demonstrated that CAG repeat length is positively correlated to sexual function and that women with a reduced ability to reach orgasm had smaller numbers of CAG repeats in the AR gene than women with no orgasmic problems. These findings indicated that androgens and ARs might play a role in women's sexual function. Wåhlin-Jacobsen S, Flanagan JN, Pedersen AT, Kristensen E, Arver S, Giraldi A. Androgen Receptor Polymorphism and Female Sexual Function and Desire. J Sex Med 2018;15:1537-1546.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe journal of sexual medicine
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)1537-1546
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

ID: 56204692