The potential relationship between perceived cognitive impairment (PCI) and sexual dysfunction in multiple sclerosis (MS) has not been studied.
To explore the relationship between cognitive impairment and sexual dysfunction over 2.5 years in people with MS.
Data were derived from the Health Outcomes and Lifestyle In a Sample of people with Multiple sclerosis (HOLISM) international cohort over 2.5 years' follow-up. Cognitive function and sexual function were assessed by sub-scores of the MS Quality of Life-54. The impact of perceived cognitive impairment on sexual dysfunction was assessed by calculating prevalence ratios (PR) and relative risks (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) using log-binomial regression models.
1958 participants were included at baseline, of whom 555 without perceived cognitive impairment at baseline comprised the longitudinal cohort. The prevalence of perceived cognitive impairment at baseline was 45.6%. At baseline, cognitive impairment was associated with increased frequency of self-reported sexual dysfunction (aPR=1.32, 95% CI: 1.17-1.48). Among the sample without sexual dysfunction at baseline, incident sexual dysfunction was more common among participants with persistent (aRR=1.61, 95% CI: 1.06-3.18) and newly reported cognitive impairment (aRR=1.89, 95% CI: 1.14-3.14).
Results suggest PCI may be an independent risk factor for sexual dysfunction in PwMS, which may represent an additional dimension whereby MS may adversely affect quality of life.