Hemophilia Puts Damper on Patients’ Sex Life and Health Status, Study Reports

José Lopes, PhD avatar

by José Lopes, PhD |

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Researchers report that hemophilia interferes with patients’ sexual activity and is linked to worse health status.

The study titled “Sexual Health in Patients with Hemophilia; The Insights from the Patient Reported Outcomes, Burdens and Experiences (PROBE) Study,” appeared in the journal Blood.

Previous results from a small survey showed that joint stiffness and pain affected the sex life of patients with hemophilia.

The team of Canadian, Irish and American researchers investigated hemophilia’s impact on sexual health. They conducted the 29-item, long-term Patient Reported Outcomes Burdens and Experiences (PROBE) questionnaire. PROBE’s main goal is to provide hemophilia patient organizations with data on patients’ health status and quality of life to be used towards better care and treatment.

A total of 807 subjects (76 percent of them males) were recruited from six countries. Of the participants, 475 had hemophilia A, 76 had hemophilia B and 256 were healthy controls. The median age was 33 years in the hemophilia group and 43 years in the control groups.

Researchers asked participants whether they had difficulty with sexual intimacy, and determined the link between clinical characteristics and sexual health. investigators also assessed participants’ overall health status. Results showed hemophiliacs had a greater prevalence of difficulty with sexual intimacy (14.3%) than did controls (6.25%).

Further analysis showed that difficulty in sexual intimacy correlated with more than 10 joint bleeding episodes in the past year, bleeding in the prior two weeks, limited motion of joints, and limb- or life-threatening bleeding in the past year.

In addition, older age, over 10 bleeding episodes, joint status and life-threatening bleeds in the prior year all predicted poor sexual health. The PROBE score was higher, thus indicating worse health status, in participants with difficulty in sexual intimacy (mean score: 4.70) than in those with a normal sexual life (3.07).

 “The prevalence of difficulty with sexual activity is significantly higher among [patients with hemophilia] as compared to general population,” researchers wrote. “Sexual health should be assessed as a routine care in adult [patients with hemophilia].”