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International Journal of Rheumatology
Volume 2010, Article ID 139020, 5 pages
Review Article

Vascular Alterations and Sexual Function in Systemic Sclerosis

1Scleroderma Program, University of Michigan, 24 Frank Lloyd Wright Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48106, USA
2Division of Rheumatology, University of Connecticut Health Center, MARB MC 5353 Room N3020, 263 Farmington Avenue, Farmington, CT 06034, USA

Received 11 May 2010; Accepted 8 July 2010

Academic Editor: Oliver Distler

Copyright © 2010 Ann Julie Impens and James R. Seibold. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Sexual dysfunction is common in systemic sclerosis (SSc). Male erectile dysfunction (MED) has been reported in around 80% of subjects and more than half of female patients fulfill criteria for diagnosis as female sexual arousal Disorder (FSAD). While some evidence supports a role for cavernosal fibrosis, abundant data suggest that MED is yet another clinical feature of SSc related to vasculopathy. The contribution of vasculopathy to the more complex issues of female sexual dysfunction is less clear. Inhibitors of Type V phosphodiesterase are effective in men with MED secondary to SSc. Limited study in women suggests inconsistent effects on behavior (frequency) but not on measures related to perfusion. Sexual activity is an important component of quality of life and an important domain for the caregiver to address; it is not clear that it warrants primary consideration as a consistent measure of scleroderma-related vasculopathy.