OBJECTIVE--To describe the effects of Sjögren's syndrome (SS) on the fertility, parity and sexual activity as well as investigating the aetiopathology of dyspareunia in female patients. METHODS--Fifty one female patients with primary SS (pSS) and 57 healthy controls were interviewed concerning their past gynaecological, obstetric and sexual history and underwent a complete gynaecological examination. Punch biopsy of the vagina was performed in six patients and one healthy individual. In addition, the vaginal tissue was evaluated following hysterectomy in two patients with pSS. RESULTS--No differences were observed in fertility, parity or reproductive success rate between patients and controls. Atrophy of the external genitalia and production of cervical mucus in both patients and controls correlated with age and menopause, but not with other clinical or serological pSS manifestations. Dyspareunia was observed in 40% of the patients during the premenopause period compared with 3% observed in controls. Half of the patients, however, had an obvious aetiology for dyspareunia (trauma or inflammation) not related to pSS. The histological picture of the patients' vaginal tissue revealed perivascular infiltration. Finally, pSS patients appeared to have a similar intercourse frequency with the controls. However, unlike that observed in controls, the intercourse frequency did not diminish with age nor with the presence of dyspareunia. CONCLUSION--The fertility, parity and sexual activity of pSS patients does not appear to differ from that of the healthy population. Dyspareunia is a frequent symptom in these patients and local perivascular in these patients and local perivascular inflammation may contribute to the expression of this manifestation.
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