Arriving at the diagnosis of female sexual dysfunction

The evolving classification system for female sexual dysfunctions is reviewed, along with methods for evaluating the female patient with sexual complaints.


Erin Z. Latif, M.D., Michael P. Diamond, M.D.

Volume 100, Issue 4, Pages 898-904, October 2013


Female sexual dysfunctions include a group of sexual complaints and disorders affecting women of all ages, and stemming from a heterogeneous array of etiologies and contributing factors. The classification system for sexual dysfunctions in the woman has evolved from a linear categorization of sexual desire, arousal, orgasm, and pain disorders to one that is more complex and overlapping. Personal distress is a key factor in defining a sexual problem as a dysfunction. The recently released Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, edition 5, collapses former definitions of female sexual disorders and moves away from the older linear model of diagnostic categories. Physicians should be open to discussing sexual problems with women, and may make use of validated questionnaires in the office setting. Evaluation tools available for assessing sexual function in the woman are in use in the research setting, as are physiological measures of assessment.

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