Quality-of-life issues in healthcare have come to be of paramount importance for a population that increasingly expects healthcare not only to treat major illnesses but also to optimize normal levels of physical and psychosocial functioning and overall well-being. Healthcare providers have also increasingly appreciated the impact that adverse effects of treatment can have on quality of life, as well as on compliance with and the effectiveness of treatment.
Many functional impairments and adverse treatment effects take the form of clinical complaints that patients and caregivers typically report to their healthcare providers without prompting. Other adverse effects are not so obviously clinical or treatment-related, and patients may not be inclined or may even be reluctant to bring them up when talking with the provider. Impairment of sexual function is a problem of this kind.
Sexual dysfunction appears to be common and frequently underrecognized in certain patient populations. For example, it has been estimated that 25% to 63% of women and 10% to 52% of men with epilepsy have some form of sexual dysfunction, yet in clinical reviews of sexual disorders, epilepsy is not listed as one of the medical conditions commonly associated with impaired sexual function.