The assessment of sexual wellbeing in treatment-seeking transgender individuals: a systematic review of the medical literature

M. Özer*, S. Poor Toulabi, L. Gijs, B. P. C. Kreukels, M. G. Mullender

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Sexual-wellbeing is recognized as an important aspect of quality-of-life. Yet, no overview exists of which aspects of sexual-wellbeing have been assessed in trans individuals seeking or undergoing medical treatment, nor is it clear what tools are used to evaluate the effect of medical treatment on sexual-wellbeing. First, to identify which topics pertaining to sexual-wellbeing have been assessed in transgender individuals in a medical context. Second, to determine which tools have been used for measuring aspects of sexual-wellbeing. A conceptual framework of sexual-wellbeing, was used as reference. A literature search (in PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library) was performed up to March 10th, 2020. Studies that assessed aspects of sexual-wellbeing in transgender individuals’ medical context were included in this review. Specific sexual topics addressed in each study were extracted by two independent reviewers. Thematic analysis was performed to identify sexual themes. Additionally, tools used to measure topics related to sexuality in transgender individuals were identified. In 172 papers, a total of 178 topics related to sexual-wellbeing were identified. Ten overarching themes were identified; sexuality, enacted sexual script, sexual activities, sexual relations, sexual response cycle, genital function, sexual function, sexual pleasure, sexual satisfaction, and quality-of-sex-life. Functional aspects of sexuality are assessed most frequently. A variety of methods was used to evaluate aspects related to sexual-wellbeing in trans individuals and over 50 different tools were identified. Self-developed questionnaires were used most frequently (n = 80), followed by chart reviews (n = 50), self-developed structured interviews (n = 37) and physical examination (n = 13). 23 previously developed questionnaires were used, all of which were developed for a cisgender population. Many studies in trans individuals touch on topics related to sexual-wellbeing, however, a comprehensive conceptualisation of (10 themes of) sexual-wellbeing is still lacking. Still, no valid tool exists for assessing sexual-wellbeing in the trans population, but is much needed.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022

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