Psychology, Department of
Date of this Version
Curr Sex Health Rep. 2019 December ; 11(4): 287–299. doi:10.1007/s11930-019-00218-7.
Purpose of Review—To describe the current state of research on interactions between inflammation and female sexual function.
Recent findings—Inflammation may interfere with female sexual desire and arousal via direct (neural) and indirect (endocrine, vascular, social/behavioral) pathways. There are significant sex differences in the effect of inflammation on sexual function, arising from different evolutionary selection pressures on regulation of reproduction. A variety of inflammation-related conditions are associated with risk of female sexual dysfunction, including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and chronic pain.
Summary—Clinical implications include the need for routine assessment for sexual dysfunction in patients with inflammation-related conditions, the potential for anti-inflammatory diets to improve sexual desire and arousal function, and consideration of chronic inflammation as moderator of sexual effects of hormonal treatments. Although the evidence points to a role for inflammation in the development and maintenance of female sexual dysfunction, the precise nature of these associations remains unclear.