The prevalence of sexual dysfunctions and sexually related distress in young women: a cross-sectional survey

There is little data pertaining to sexual function of pre- menopausal women. A representative community- based sample who completed validated questionnaires revealed that 1/2 young women have sexually related personal distress and 1/5 have a sexual dysfunction, with sexual self-image predominating.

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Volume 113, Issue 2, Pages 426–434


Jia Zheng, Marina A. Skiba, B.Ed.Sci, Robin J. Bell, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., Rakibul M. Islam, Ph.D., Susan R. Davis, M.B.B.S., Ph.D.



To document the prevalence of female sexual dysfunctions (FSDs) and factors associated with FSDs and sexually related personal distress in premenopausal women.


Community-based cross-sectional study.


Eastern states of Australia.


Women aged 18–39 years.


Not applicable.

Main Outcome Measure(s)

Women were classified as having sexually related personal distress if they had a Female Sexual Distress Scale–Revised score of ≥11, and as having an FSD if they had a low Profile of Female Sexual Function desire, arousal, orgasmic function, responsiveness, or sexual self-image domain score plus sexually related personal distress. Sociodemographic factors associated with an FSD were examined by means of multivariable logistic regression.


The prevalence of sexually related personal distress was 50.2%. Sexually related personal distress without dysfunction affected 29.6%, and 20.6% had at least one FSD. The proportions of women with self-image, arousal, desire, orgasm, and responsiveness dysfunction were 11.1%, 9%, 8%, 7.9%, and 3.4% respectively. Sexual self-image dysfunction was associated with being overweight, obese, living together, not married, married, breastfeeding, and taking a psychotropic medication. Psychotropic medication was significantly associated with all FSDs. Independent risk factors for nonspecific sexually related personal distress included psychotropic medication., sexual inactivity, and infertility treatment.


That one-half of young Australian women have sexually related personal distress and one in five women have at least an FSD, with sexual self-image predominating, is concerning. The high prevalence of distress signals the importance of health professionals being adequately prepared to discuss sexual health concerns.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.