Sexual Dysfunction Common in Schizophrenia

Pauline Anderson

September 13, 2023


Prevalence of sexual dysfunction in schizophrenia patients remains high, with improved screening and treatment of depression possibly improving sexual health of these patients, results of a systematic review and meta-analysis show.


  • Data on sexual dysfunction prevalence in people with schizophrenia should be updated because the only meta-analysis on this topic was published over 10 years ago, and factors that could explain the heterogeneity of sexual dysfunctions in schizophrenia also needs reexamining.

  • After carrying out a literature search for observational studies reporting prevalence of sexual dysfunction in outpatients receiving treatment for schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, researchers included 72 studies with 21,076 patients from 33 countries published between 1979 and 2021 in their review.

  • They determined pooled estimates of sexual dysfunction prevalence in men and women and of each specific dysfunction.


  • Pooled estimates for global prevalence were: 56.4% for sexual dysfunctions (95% CI, 50.5-62.2), 40.6% for loss of libido, (95% CI, 30.7-51.4), 28.0% for orgasm dysfunction (95% CI, 18.4-40.2), and 6.1% for genital pain (95% CI, 2.8-12.7), with study design, sociodemographic data, and other factors associated with the high heterogeneity of sexual dysfunctions.

  • In men, estimates were: 55.7% for sexual dysfunction (95% CI, 48.1-63.1), 44.0% for erectile dysfunction (95% CI, 33.5-55.2), and 38.6% ejaculation dysfunction (95% CI, 26.8-51.8).

  • In women, estimates were: 60.0% for sexual dysfunction (95% CI, 48.0-70.8), 25.1% for amenorrhea (95% CI, 17.3-35.0), and 7.7% for galactorrhea (95% CI, 3.7-15.3).

  • Studies with the highest proportion of antidepressant prescriptions reported lower rates of sexual dysfunctions.


The review shows that sexual dysfunction is "extremely frequent" in schizophrenia and uncovers "important evidence" suggesting that better screening and treatment of depression "may be an effective strategy to improve sexual health in patients with schizophrenia," write the authors.


The study was carried out by Théo Korchia, MD, Assistance Publique-Hopitaux de Marseille, Aix-Marseille University, CEReSS: Health Service Research and Quality of Life Center, France, and colleagues. It was published online September 13 in JAMA Psychiatry.


Most factors known to increase sexual dysfunction, including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, smoking, and sleep disorders, were poorly explored in the included studies. Results may not be extrapolated to continents such as Africa and Polynesia because they were underrepresented in the review. The presence of publication bias in the meta-analysis can't be entirely ruled out. Heterogeneity or methodological differences may have contributed to the observed results.


The authors have no relevant conflict of interest.

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