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OBJECTIVE: To determine whether musculoskeletal pain was associated with impaired sexual function in a population sample of middle-aged and older men. METHODS: The European Male Ageing Study (EMAS), a multicenter population-based study of men aged 40-79 years, was used to investigate this hypothesis. A questionnaire asked about the presence and duration of musculoskeletal pain, allowing subjects to be classified into 1 of 3 groups: those reporting chronic widespread pain (CWP), those reporting pain but not CWP ("some pain"), and those with no pain. Subjects completed a sexual function questionnaire from which 3 domains were considered: overall sexual functioning (OSF), sexual functioning-related distress (SFD), and change in sexual functioning compared to 1 year ago (CSF). RESULTS: A total of 3206 men [mean age 60 (SD 11) yrs] had complete data on pain status. Of these, 8.7% had CWP and 50.34% had "some pain." Pain was associated with lower OSF, and higher SFD and CSF scores. After adjustment for putative confounding factors, the associations became non-significant with OSF and CSF but persisted for SFD. Associations between pain status and some items within the sexual functioning domains, including frequency of sexual intercourse, frequency of morning erections, sexual desire, and orgasm were also significant, although these associations varied by pain status. CONCLUSION: Musculoskeletal pain is associated with several aspects of sexual functioning. These relationships differ depending on the extent of the pain (chronic or not) and are also largely confounded by other health-related factors, primarily depression.

Original publication




Journal article


J rheumatol

Publication Date





370 - 377


Adult, Aged, Aging, Depression, Europe, Humans, Linear Models, Male, Middle Aged, Musculoskeletal Diseases, Pain, Sexual Behavior, Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological, Surveys and Questionnaires