Prevalence of sexual symptoms in relation to menopause in women in Asia: a systematic review

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Abstract

Objective:

This systematic review of the literature was undertaken to investigate the prevalence of sexual symptoms in women in Asia in relation to their menopause status.

Methods:

MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, SCOPUS, and Google scholar were searched systematically for relevant population-based prevalence studies published between 1988 and 2016. The included studies were assessed for risk of bias using a risk-of-bias tool developed explicitly for the systematic review of prevalence studies.

Results:

A total of 34 articles, comprising 24,743 women, were included. In Asia, diminished sexual desire appears to be highly prevalent amongst postmenopausal women. Vulvovaginal atrophy symptoms are common after menopause in some Asian countries, but are either less common or under-reported in other Asian countries. The review highlights the paucity of data pertaining to menopause and sexual well-being in Asia, and the lack of prevalence studies that have assessed sexual function using a validated questionnaire. Most of the included studies had a high risk of bias, especially in the four items that pertain to external validity.

Conclusions:

The available data, despite its limitations, suggests that after menopause, lowered sexual desire and vulvovaginal atrophy symptoms, including dryness, irritation, soreness, and dyspareunia, are common in women in Asia. The extent to which such symptoms cause women distress is not known. Studies of representative samples of premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women that use robustly translated and culturally appropriate validated questionnaires, and that collect detailed demographic data are still needed to determine the prevalence of sexual symptoms in relation to menopause in women in Asia.

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