Characterizing sexual behavior in frontotemporal dementia

Rebekah M. Ahmed, Cassandra Kaizik, Muireann Irish, Eneida Mioshi, Nadene Dermody, Matthew C. Kiernan, Olivier Piguet, John R. Hodges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
175 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is characterized by a number of prominent behavioral changes. While FTD has been associated with the presence of aberrant or unusual sexual behaviors in a proportion of patients, few studies have formally investigated changes in sexual function in this disease.
Objective: We aimed to systematically quantify changes in sexual behavior, including current symptoms and changes from prior diagnoses, in behavioral-variant (bvFTD) and semantic dementia (SD), compared to Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Methods: Carers of 49 dementia patients (21 bvFTD, 11 SD, 17 AD) were interviewed using the Sexual Behavior and Intimacy Questionnaire (SIQ), a survey designed to assess changes in sexual function across multiple domains including initiating, level of affection, and aberrant or unusual sexual behavior.
Results: BvFTD patients show prominent hyposexual behavior including decreased affection, initiation, and response to advances by partners, and decreased frequency of sexual relations, compared to AD and to SD patients. The greatest changes in sexual behavior compared to pre-diagnoses were found in the bvFTD group with a 90–100% decrease in initiation, response, and frequency of sexual relations. Notably, aberrant or unusual sexual behavior was reported in a minority of bvFTD and SD patients and occurred in patients who also showed hyposexual behavior toward their partner.
Conclusion: Overall loss of affection, reduced initiation of sexual activity, and responsiveness is an overwhelming feature of bvFTD. In contrast, aberrant or unusual sexual behavior is observed in the minority of bvFTD patients. The underlying pathophysiology of these changes likely reflects structural and functional changes in frontoinsular and limbic regions including the hypothalamus.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-686
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Alzheimers Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2015


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • frontotemporal dementia
  • sexual function

Cite this