Interventions for sexual dysfunction in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

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Background: People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are believed be at higher risk of problems with sexual function than age-matched peers. Problems with sexuality or sexual function associated with COPD may arise as a results of hormonal, physiological, or psychological problems, or as a result of changes in intimate relationships arising from the chronic nature of the condition. Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of interventions for sexual dysfunction in people with COPD. Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Airways Group's Specialised Register on 8 July 2015 and conducted supplementary searches of the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, four other databases, and two trials registers to July 2015, together with reference checking, citation searching, and contact with study authors to identify additional studies. We used no language or date restrictions. Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs), cluster RCTs, and quasi-RCTs evaluating the effects of pharmacological, mechanical, psychological, or educational interventions to address problems with sexual well-being in people with COPD and their partners. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently reviewed search results against predetermined inclusion criteria. Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed risk of bias for included studies. We contacted study authors for additional information. Main results: We included two studies involving a total of 48 participants. One of these studies (an RCT) investigated the effect of a pharmacological intervention (testosterone therapy) compared to a placebo over a four-month period. The other study (a quasi-RCT) compared one month of long-term oxygen therapy to a single 24-hour dose of oxygen therapy over a one-month period. Both studies only included men with moderate to very severe COPD (mean FEV1% across both studies 41%; standard deviation (SD) 11.7%) who were under the age of 74 (mean age across both studies 65 years; SD 7.1). We found low-quality evidence that testosterone therapy for men with COPD results in improvements in erectile function, but no evidence of effect regarding overall satisfaction with sexual function. There is insufficient data to draw conclusions regarding the possibility of adverse events arising from testosterone therapy for COPD or the effect of oxygen therapy on erectile dysfunction. Neither study provided additional data on sexual function, other than erectile function. Authors' conclusions: There is currently insufficient evidence from clinical trials at present to inform the best way of providing interventions to improve sexual function and sexual satisfaction for people with COPD and their partners. Consequently, clinicians need to rely on clinical trials involving people without COPD and expert opinion in order to guide clinical practice in this area. Considerably more trials need to be conducted in this area of clinical practice.




Levack, W. M. M., Poot, B., Weatherall, M., & Travers, J. (2015, September 30). Interventions for sexual dysfunction in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

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