Urinary symptoms and female sexual dysfunction in women with type 1 diabetes: the role of depression

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



The journal of sexual medicine








BACKGROUND: Some reports suggest that women with type 1 diabetes (T1D) have a greater burden of female sexual dysfunction (FSD) than women without T1D, but the etiology of this elevated risk is poorly understood. AIM: To examine the associations between FSD and urinary incontinence/lower urinary tract symptoms (UI/LUTS) in women with T1D and to evaluate how depression may mediate these relationships. METHODS: LUTS and UI symptoms were assessed in women with T1D who participated in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial/Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications Study. Multivariable logistic regression models estimated associations between FSD and UI/LUTS (overall and specific domains) and the impact of depression on these associations. OUTCOMES: FSD was measured with the Female Sexual Function Index-Reduced. RESULTS: In total, 499 self-reported sexually active women completed validated assessments of sexual and urinary function (mean ± SD age, 47.7 ± 7.6 years; T1D duration, 23.4 ± 5.15 years). FSD was reported in 232 (46%) responders. The frequency of UI and LUTS was 125 (25.1%) and 96 (19.2%), respectively. Neither UI nor its subcategories (urge, stress) were associated with FSD. Although LUTS (odds ratio [OR], 1.75; 95% CI, 1.09-2.77) and its symptoms of urgency (OR, 1.99; 95% CI, 1.09-3.61) and incomplete emptying (OR, 2.44; 95% CI, 1.23-4.85) were associated with FSD, these associations were attenuated following adjustment for depression and antidepressant medication use. Depression indicators were independently associated with FSD overall and across domains. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: The complex interplay of voiding dysfunction, mental health, and sexual function warrants further investigation to understand the potential implications for patient assessment, goal setting, treatment, and care planning. STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS: Data are from a prospective study of individuals with T1D. These results are unable to explore cause-and-effect relationships among LUTS, UI, depression, and FSD. The sample may not be representative of the general population of women with T1D. Because participants in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial/Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications Study are mostly White, generalizing the findings to other races and to type 2 diabetes may not be appropriate. While exclusion of sexually inactive women likely biases our findings toward the null, this design element permitted study of LUTS and UI in relation to aspects of FSD, the primary objective of this study. CONCLUSIONS: The significant associations between LUTS/UI and FSD among middle-aged women with T1D were greatly attenuated when depression was considered a mediating factor.