STUDY QUESTION: Do sexual functioning, sexual esteem, genital self-image and psychological and relational functioning in women with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome differ from a comparison group of women without the condition? SUMMARY ANSWER: In comparison to controls, women with MRKH with a non-surgically or surgically created neovagina did not differ in psychological and relational functioning but reported lower sexual esteem and more negative genital self-image, intercourse-related pain, clinically relevant sexual distress and sexual dysfunction, with sexual esteem levels strongly associated with sexual distress and sexual dysfunction. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Studies on sexual functioning measured with standardized questionnaires in women with MRKH syndrome compared with women without the condition have yielded contradictory results. Factors associated with sexual functioning in this patient population have rarely been investigated. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: Between November 2015 and May 2017, 54 women with MRKH syndrome with a neovagina and 79 age-matched healthy women without the condition were enrolled in this case-control study. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: All participants had to be at least 18-years old and had to live in a steady heterosexual relationship. Women with MRKH syndrome were asked to participate by their (former) gynecologists at three university hospitals and by MRKH peer support group. Controls were recruited via advertisement in local newspapers and social media. Standardized questionnaires were administered to assess sexual functioning, sexual esteem, genital self-image and psychological and relational functioning. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Women with MRKH syndrome with a surgically or non-surgically created neovagina reported significantly more pain during intercourse (P < 0.05, d = 0.5), but did not differ in overall sexual functioning from control women. More women with MRKH syndrome reported clinically relevant sexuality-related distress (P < 0.05, odds ratio (OR): 2.756, 95% CI 1.219-6.232) and suffered a sexual dysfunction (P < 0.05, OR: 2.654, 95% CI: 1.088-6.471) in comparison with controls. MRKH women scored significantly lower on the sexual esteem scale (SES) (P < 0.01, d = 0.5) and the female genital self-image scale (FGSIS) (P < 0.01, d = 0.6) than controls. No significant differences were found between the two groups regarding psychological distress, anxiety and depression, global self-esteem and relational dissatisfaction. Sexual esteem was significantly associated with the presence of clinically relevant sexual distress (ß = 0.455, P = 0.001) and suffering a sexual dysfunction (ß = 0.554, P = 0.001) and explained, respectively, 40% and 28% of the variance. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Given the nature of the study focusing on sexual functioning, a potential selection bias cannot be excluded. It is possible that those women with the most severe sexual and/or psychological disturbances did or did not choose to participate in our study. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: The study results add new data to the very limited knowledge about psychosexual functioning of women with MRKH syndrome and are of importance for more adequate counseling and treatment of these women. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): The research was financially supported by the Dutch Scientific Society of Sexology (Nederlandse wetenschappelijke Vereniging Voor Seksuologie). The funding was unrestricted, and there was no involvement in the conduct of the research. There are no conflicts of interest to declare.

Additional Metadata
Keywords genital self-image, Mayer–Rokitansky–Küster–Hauser syndrome, psychological functioning, relational functioning, sexual distress, sexual dysfunction, sexual esteem, sexual problems, vaginal agenesis
Persistent URL,
Series VSNU Open Access deal
Journal Human Reproduction
Note corresponding author at Leiden University
Weijenborg, P.T.M. (P. T.M.), Kluivers, K.B, Dessens, A.B, ten Kate-Booij, M.J, & Both, S. (S.). (2019). Sexual functioning, sexual esteem, genital self-image and psychological and relational functioning in women with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome: a case-control study. Human Reproduction, 34(9), 1661–1673. doi:10.1093/humrep/dez130