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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 56 (2014) 4, 268 - 272

Short report

Sexuality in eating-disorder patients

V. Beerens, A. Vermassen, E. Vrieze, G. Pieters

background A link is suspected between eating disorders and dysfunctional sexuality. The grounds for this link are thought to be clinical, biological and psychological.
aim To find out from the literature what is known about sexuality in patients with eating disorders, to identify differences related to subtypes of the disorders and to ascertain whether sexuality can play a role in the diagnosis and treatment of various types of eating disorders.
method We studied the research literature with the help of PubMed.
results Patients with eating disorders are more likely to have sexual problems; these include reduced libido, reduced sexual activity and sexual dissatisfaction. The distorted body image leads to the avoidance of sexual activity. Anorexia patients are more negative about sexuality and have a greater loss of libido than do bulimia patients, who experiment more with sex.
conclusion Patients with eating disorders experience sexual dysfunction, but there are clear differences between the various eating-disorder subtypes. It is advisable that, in the future, sexuality should be included in the outcome of research in eating disorders. This step will help researchers to evaluate the effect that treatment can have on the outcome of the eating disorder.

keywords eating disorder, sexuality