Psychology Wiki

Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Clinical: Approaches · Group therapy · Techniques · Types of problem · Areas of specialism · Taxonomies · Therapeutic issues · Modes of delivery · Model translation project · Personal experiences ·

This article is in need of attention from a psychologist/academic expert on the subject.
Please help recruit one, or improve this page yourself if you are qualified.
This banner appears on articles that are weak and whose contents should be approached with academic caution.
Female Sexual Arousal Disorder
ICD-9 302.72
DiseasesDB {{{DiseasesDB}}}
MedlinePlus {{{MedlinePlus}}}
eMedicine {{{eMedicineSubj}}}/{{{eMedicineTopic}}}
MeSH {{{MeshNumber}}}

Female sexual dysfunction or Female sexual arousal disorder or female orgasmic disorder (or frigidity) is the condition of decreased, insufficient, or absent lubrication in females during sexual activity, and sexual contact in females. Loss of interest in sex occurs most commonly in women as they age and approach menopause.

Although female sexual dysfunction is currently a contested diagnostic, pharmaceutical companies are beginning to promote products to treat FSD, often involving low doses of testosterone.


Subtypes are provided to indicate onset (Lifelong versus Acquired), context (Generalized versus Situational), and etiological factors (Due to Psychological Factors, Due to Combined Factors) for Female Sexual Arousal Disorder.

Diagnostic Features

The DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association 1994) diagnostic criteria for female sexual arousal disorders are outlined here:

A. Persistent or recurrent inability to attain, or to maintain until completion of the sexual activity, an adequate lubrication-swelling response of sexual excitement.

B. The disturbance causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.

C. The sexual dysfunction is not better accounted for by another Axis I disorder (except another sexual dysfunction) and is not due exclusively to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition.

Specify type:

  • Lifelong type
  • Acquired type

Specify type:

  • Generalized type
  • Situational type


  • Due to psychological factors
  • Due to combined factors


A number of studies have explored the factors that contribute to female sexual arousal disorder and female orgasmic disorder. The data relating to both the psychological and the physical domain will be evaluated below. In the psychological domain, the impact of past (childhood, adolescence) and current events - both within the individual and within the current relationship - will be considered.

Impact of Events During Childhood and Adolescence

Most studies that have assessed the impact of childhood experiences on female sexual dysfunction are methodologically flawed. They rely on retrospective recall, which is particularly problematic when emotional responses to the event as well as the actual occurrence of the event are being reported.

Individual Factors

There has been little investigation of the impact of individual factors on sexual dysfunction in women. Such factors include stress, levels of fatigue, gender identity, health, and other individual attributes and experiences that may alter sexual desire or response.

Relationship Factors

A substantial body of research has explored the role of interpersonal factors in sexual dysfunction among women, particularly in relation to orgasmic response. These studies have largely focused on the impact of the quality of the relationship on the sexual functioning of the partners. Some studies have evaluated the role of specific relationship variables, whereas others have examined overall relationship satisfaction. Some studies have explored events; others have focused on attitudes as an empirical measure of relationship functioning. Subject populations have varied from distressed couples to sexually dysfunctional clients to those in satisfied relationships.

Physical Factors

Estimates of the percentage of female sexual dysfunction attributable to physical factors have ranged from 30% to 80%. The disorders most likely to result in sexual dysfunction are those that lead to problems in circulatory or neurological function. These factors have been more extensively explored in men than in women. Physical etiologies such as neurological and cardiovascular illnesses have been directly implicated in both premature and retarded ejaculation as well as in erectile disorder (Hawton 1993), but the contribution of physiological factors to female sexual dysfunction is not so clear. However, recent literature does suggest that there may be an impairment in the arousal phase among diabetic women. Given that diabetic women show a significant variability in their response to this medical disorder, it is not surprising that the disease’s influence on arousal is also highly variable. In fact, the lack of a clear association between medical disorders and sexual functioning suggests that psychological factors play a significant part in the impact of these disorders on sexual functioning (Melman et al. 1988).


Although the way in which female sexual arousal disorder and female orgasmic disorder are expressed shows a wide degree of variation, there is no evidence to suggest either that different factors contribute to the two disorders or that different treatment strategies should be used. In fact, the same treatment strategies are generally applied for both disorders. These strategies may need to be supplemented with additional techniques to resolve specific problems for individual women, but they are generally good starting points for resolving the issues that contribute to the development and maintenance of the sexual problem. Because the relationship between the woman and her partner has been shown to play a significant role in both the development and the maintenance of sexual problems, most programs are designed to be implemented by the couple, although there may also be additional strategies that focus on the individual.

An existing tanning drug, bremelanotide, has also been found to increase libido in 90% of subjects, and therefore is being developed with the intention of selling as a treatment for sexual arousal disorder.

See also


  • Barlow DH: Causes of sexual dysfunction: the role of anxiety and cognitive interference. J Consult Clin Psychiatry 54:140-148, 1986
  • Beck JG, Barlow DH: Current conceptualisations of sexual dysfunction: a review and an alternative perspective. Clin Psychol Rev 4:363-378, 1984
  • Cahill C, Llewelyn SP, Pearson C: Long term effects of sexual abuse which occurred in childhood: a review. Br J Clin Psychol 30:117-130, 1991
  • Delaney SM, McCabe MP: Secondary inorgasmia in women: a treatment program and case study. Sexual and Marital Therapy 3:165-190, 1988
  • Hallstrom T, Samuelsson S: Changes in women's sexual desire in middle life: the longitudinal study of women in Gothenburg. Arch Sex Behav 19:259-268, 1990
  • Hawton K: Sex Therapy. Oxford, UK, Oxford University Press, 1993
  • Heiman JR, Gladue BA, Roberts CW, et al: Historical and current factors discriminating sexually functional from sexually dysfunctional married couples. J Marital Fam Ther 12:163-174, 1986
  • Hoch Z, Safir MP, Peres G, et al: An evaluation of sexual performance - comparison between sexually dysfunctional and functional couples. J Sex Marital Ther 7:195-206, 1981
  • Hof L, Berman E. The sexual genogram. J Marital Fam Ther 12:39-47, 1986
  • Hulbert DF. The role of assertiveness in female sexuality: a comparative study between sexually assertive and sexually non-assertive women. J Sex Marital Ther 17:183-190, 1991
  • Kilpatrick AC. Some correlates of women's childhood sexual experiences: a retrospective study. J Sex Res 22:221-242, 1986
  • Salamonsen LA: Hormonal activity in the endometrium: tissue remodelling and uterine bleeding, in Progress in the Management of Menopause. Edited by Wren BG. London, Parthenon, 1997, pp 212-216
  • Salmon UJ, Geist SH: The effects of androgens upon libido in women. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology 3:235-238, 1943
  • Segraves RT, Segraves KB. Human sexuality and aging. Journal of Sex Education and Therapy 21:88-102, 1995
  • Spector IP, Carey P: Incidence and prevalence of the sexual dysfunctions: a critical review of the empirical literature. Arch Sex Behav 19:389-408, 1990
  • Spector KR, Boyle M: The prevalence and perceived aetiology of male sexual problems in a non-clinical sample. Br J Med Psychol 59:351-358, 1986

External links

External links

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).