Sexuality in Women with Schizophrenia
This article reviews the published English literature to learn what is empirically known about the sexuality of women with schizophrenia. Although this aspect of patients lives is an important determinant of their quality of life, too little is known. It is clear that women with schizophrenia have high rates of sexual dysfunction which may or may not be side effects of medications used to treat their disorder. They also show higher rates of high risk sexual behaviors, those likely to result in HIV/AIDS, and unwanted pregnancies which may be related to the higher rates of sexual and physical abuse than that seen in non-affected women. Qualitative studies which are few in number and literary accounts by women with the illness hint that women with schizophrenia wish for rewarding sexually intimate relationships but infrequently attain them. Clinicians who are handicapped by great gaps in available research do a poor job at discussing and advising women about their options and rights. The author identifies a number of key clinical questions requiring answers.
Keywords: Schizophrenia, women, sexuality, disability, decision-making
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