Associations between recalled childhood gender nonconformity and adult sexual dysfunction in Denmark: baseline assessment in the Project SEXUS cohort study

Thula U. Koops*, Josefine Bernhard Andresen, Christian Graugaard, Peer Briken, Mikkel Kjær Bahnsen, Mikael Andersson, Morten Frisch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Sexual dysfunctions may negatively affect an individual's self-perceived womanhood or manhood, but whether gender nonconformity in childhood or adolescence can influence adult sexual functioning has not been examined so far.

AIM: To explore the possible link between recalled childhood gender nonconformity and sexual dysfunctions in adulthood in a large sample.

METHODS: We analyzed baseline questionnaire data from Project SEXUS, a nationally representative cohort study on sexual health among 15- to 89-year-old Danish citizens. Our sample included sexually active participants aged ≥18 years who were queried about gender nonconformity in childhood or adolescence (N = 21 390). To capture sexual dysfunctions, we assessed (1) difficulties with lubrication, orgasm, vaginal cramps precluding sexual intercourse, and/or genital pain during partnered sexual activity in women and (2) difficulties with erection, premature ejaculation, orgasm, and/or genital pain during partnered sexual activity in men. Furthermore, we assessed whether such difficulties were perceived as problematic. The 6-item Female Sexual Function Index and the 5-item International Index of Erectile Function served as standardized measures. Polytomous logistic regression analyses yielded demographically weighted adjusted odds ratios (aORs) with 95% CIs for associations between childhood gender nonconformity and sexual dysfunctions, controlling for age, sociodemographics, health-related factors, and other potential confounders.

OUTCOMES: Sexual difficulties and dysfunctions, as well as scores on the Female Sexual Function Index and International Index of Erectile Function.

RESULTS: Age-adjusted odds ratios indicated that sexual dysfunctions were significantly more common among childhood gender-nonconforming than conforming participants. After controlling for additional potential confounders, most sexual dysfunctions-notably, vaginal cramps in women (aOR, 2.12; 95% CI, 1.25-3.60) and genital pain dysfunction in men (aOR, 2.99; 95% CI, 1.79-4.99)-remained significantly increased among childhood gender-nonconforming respondents.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Findings suggest that self-perceived gender nonconformity in childhood or adolescence may negatively affect sexual functioning in adult life. If confirmed by future studies, they may warrant a clinical emphasis on such issues in sexologic treatment and care.

STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS: Our study is the first to report associations between childhood gender nonconformity and adult sexual dysfunction, building on data from a large-scale, nationally representative cohort study. The retrospective assessment of childhood gender nonconformity via one item might have neglected significant dimensions of this construct.

CONCLUSION: The present study is the first to show that individuals who recall being gender nonconforming in childhood or adolescence may be at a greater risk of experiencing sexual dysfunctions, particularly sexual pain disorders, as adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberqdad129
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Volume20
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)1451-1458
Number of pages8
ISSN1743-6095
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

© Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The International Society of Sexual Medicine. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Denmark/epidemiology
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Cramp
  • Pain
  • Premature Ejaculation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Young Adult

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Associations between recalled childhood gender nonconformity and adult sexual dysfunction in Denmark: baseline assessment in the Project SEXUS cohort study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this