Past research suggests a link between post‐traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and an increased risk for sexual problems. However, there is still no clear picture whether these higher rates are related to trauma exposure or to PTSD itself.
The aim of the present study was to complement existing knowledge on the relative impact of trauma and PTSD on sexuality in later life, considering different aspects of trauma exposure on both men and women.
The study was conducted on a unique population sample of former Swiss indentured child laborers (55 men,M age 78, age range 60–95 years) who have repeatedly experienced a variety of severe childhood traumas.
Main Outcome Measures
Sexual outcomes were measured using two scales from the Trauma Symptom Inventory—Dysfunctional Sexual Behavior (DSB) and Sexual Concerns (SC). PTSD symptoms and trauma were assessed with the Short Screening Scale for PTSD and the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, respectively.
Twenty‐two individuals showed PTSD symptoms, and 53 reported having experienced childhood trauma. Significant differences between men and women were reported for DSB and SC. Men reported a significantly higher prevalence of both SC and DSB compared with women.
This is the very first study investigating DSB and SC in a sample of older adults exposed to similar traumatic experiences and settings. However, some study limitations need to be considered such as the small sample size. Additional studies are needed to further explore the relative role of traumatization and PTSD on sexual behavior and well‐being, especially to improve sexual therapy for patients who experience trauma.
...Although there is an extensive body of literature suggesting the tendency for sexual abuse alone to predict sexual symptoms (e.g., Briere et al. [13, 20]), only physical abuse was significantly associated with sexual concerns in this study. None of the other trauma exposure types (i.e., sexual or emotional abuse) were associated with either SC or DSB. These findings are in line with a recent epidemiologic study, which found a significant relationship between previous experiences of any kind of abuse and sexual impairment of various domains of women's sexual functioning . The study further revealed that the specific form of abuse was irrelevant to the development of sexual problems, suggesting that different types of abuse—whether they are of emotional, sexual, or physical nature—all have similar effects on one's emotional regulation and sexuality. This study also supports our findings concerning the artificial categorization of the various traumas into interpersonal vs. accidental—interpersonal trauma was more significantly associated with SC compared with accidental trauma. Further, no specific effects of cumulative trauma on sexual behavior could be detected in the present study, but additional research including both men and women and assessing different types of trauma events is needed.
Overall, the results of this study support that neither time of the traumatic event nor screening positively for PTSD symptoms is an independent risk factor or predictor for sexual problems...
Full article at: http://goo.gl/Rqoobi
1University of Zurich—Department of Psychology, Zurich, Switzerland
*Corresponding Author: Karin Rechsteiner, MSc, University of Zurich—Psychology, Binzmühlestrasse 14/17, Zürich 8050, Switzerland. Tel: 41‐44‐635‐73‐12; E‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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