Sexual Communication and Functioning among Adult Stroke Patients with Non-fluent Aphasia: A Cross-Sectional Study
Background. Stroke remains a leading cause of death and disability in the Philippines, rendering its survivors unable to cope well with activities of daily living, including sexual functioning. Sexual dysfunction is an under-recognized complication post-stroke, and mobility and communication barriers among those with aphasia can further contribute to sexual dysfunction, potentially affecting their quality of life.
Objective. To determine the changes in sexual functioning among patients with aphasia and the communication methods they used to compensate for language and communication deficits.
Method. This was a descriptive cross-sectional study involving patients (≥30 years old, with 1 episode of stroke, with non-fluent aphasia) and their respective sexual partners. Data were gathered using a clinician-administered questionnaire based on previous studies. Outcomes included changes in libido, coital frequency, time of resumption of sexual activity, erectile/ orgasmic ability, sexual satisfaction, and alternative methods of communication.
Results. Forty participants were included comprising of 20 patients with aphasia and their respective sexual partners. There was a decline in sexual activity among the couples, with reduced frequency of sexual intercourse. Both patients and partners reported difficulties in expressing the desire for sexual activities, hindering initiation. There was noted difficulty in ascertaining the sexual experience of patients with aphasia (i.e., whether pleasure or pain), hindering maintenance and enjoyment of the sexual act. In response to the difficulties mentioned above, sexual innuendoes as communication strategies were described by the couples.
Conclusion. The study provides baseline local data on changes in sexual functioning among stroke patients with nonfluent aphasia and their sexual partners. Sexual rehabilitation is recommended in the holistic management of patients with aphasia to train couples develop compensatory techniques to adjust to the changes in their sexual lives.