Effect of Intensive Lifestyle Intervention on Sexual Dysfunction in Women With Type 2 Diabetes

Results from an ancillary Look AHEAD study

  1. The Sexual Dysfunction Subgroup of the Look AHEAD Research Group
  1. 1Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Alpert Medical School at Brown University, The Miriam Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology, University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), School of Public Health, Newark, New Jersey
  3. 3Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  4. 4Department of Biostatistical Sciences, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  5. 5Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
  6. 6Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland
  7. 7Department of Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, New Jersey
  8. 8Department of Medicine, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tennessee
  9. 9Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado
  10. 10Colorado Center for Behavioral Medicine, Denver, Colorado
  11. 11New England Research Institute, Watertown, Massachusetts
  1. Corresponding author: Rena R. Wing, rwing{at}


OBJECTIVE Sexual dysfunction is a prevalent problem in obese women with type 2 diabetes. This study examined the effects of intensive lifestyle intervention (ILI) in these women.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Look AHEAD is a 16-center, randomized, controlled trial evaluating the health effects of ILI compared with a control group (diabetes support and education [DSE]). The Look AHEAD Sexual Function Ancillary study included 375 female participants at five Look AHEAD sites. Participants completed the Female Sexual Function Inventory (FSFI) and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and assessments of weight and cardiovascular risk factors at baseline and 1 year were made.

RESULTS At baseline, 50% of the 229 participants who reported being sexually active met criteria for female sexual dysfunction (FSD); only BDI score was related to FSD. One-year weight losses were greater in the ILI group than in the DSE group (7.6 vs. 0.45 kg; P < 0.001). Among women with FSD at baseline, those in the ILI group (N = 60) compared with those in the DSE group (N = 53) were significantly more likely to remain sexually active (83 vs. 64%; P < 0.008), reported greater improvement in total FSFI scores and in most FSFI domains (P < 0.05), and were more likely to experience remission of FSD (28 vs. 11%; P < 0.04) at 1 year. No significant differences between ILI and DSE were seen in women who did not have FSD at baseline.

CONCLUSIONS Participation in ILI appeared to have beneficial effects on sexual functioning among obese women with diabetes, particularly in those who had FSD at baseline.

  • Received February 6, 2013.
  • Accepted April 13, 2013.

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  1. Diabetes Care
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