One of the first studies to look at serious physical trauma in patients reveals that nearly a third of the patients studied sustained sexual dysfunction even after a year passed since the trauma event. This particular study involved over 10,000 patients and 69 hospitals across 14 states. The incentive to do the study was prompted by surgeons of young trauma patients who were receiving these complaints of sexual dysfunction even though a year's time had passed and adequate healing (regardless of the type of physical trauma) had occurred.
The rate of sexual dysfunction nearly doubled when comparing under age 50 trauma patients to healthy patients in the same age group; it nearly tripled in the over age 50 age group when compared to the over 50 healthy populace. What was also really provocative was that the statistics of sexual dysfunction did not depend on what kind of physical trauma had occurred. It was expected that if the serious trauma involved the pelvic region that the rates would be even higher;. Instead, there was no statistical variance. The sexual dysfunction was simply related to "moderate to severe physical trauma of any kind. And though most of the patients in the study were male (68%), there was no difference between men and women statistically - 23% of the men and 21% of the women with serious physical trauma had significant or complete sexual dysfunction.
Researchers are hoping that this study will:
(a) Serve as a wake up call to doctors who take care of these types of patients so that they will include a discussion of sexual activity and health (ongoing) as the patient recovers
(b) A call out to patients who suffer trauma to initially expect some sexual problems but to seek help if the problems persist
The doctors in the study have offered several different explanations regarding the cause of the sexual dysfunction. Patients with serious physical trauma may suffer from ongoing pain and/or depression - both implicated as causes of sexual dysfunction. The patient may be left with some kind of physical, emotional scars/impairments that contribute to the sexual dysfunction. The doctors in the study plan to continue to evaluate and study the "why" part of how serious physical trauma can lead to sexual dysfunction, particularly sexual dysfunction that persists so they can help patients avoid long term suffering. The also realize that they can make PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) less severe if they take measures to prevent or successfully resolve the sexual dysfunction component that is often present.