Third Annual Female Sexual Function Forum: New Perspectives in the Management of Female Sexual Dysfunction

Lorraine Dennerstein, AO, MBBS, PhD, DPM, FRANZCP


December 05, 2000

In This Article


The third international multidisciplinary meeting on female sexual function was held in an atmosphere of great excitement. Papers were scientifically based studies of female sexual function and dysfunction and included 9 grand master lectures, 20 podium presentations, 73 moderated posters, and 6 symposia. There were also 3 breakout sessions dedicated to discussion of patient management.

After so many decades in which there had been very little scientific progress made in understanding or treating female sexual problems, this meeting attested to a genuine movement forward in this field. There can be no doubt that at least some of the upswing and progress in research in this field reflects the interest by the pharmaceutical industry in finding and evaluating new products that can be used to treat female sexual dysfunction -- that is, a female counterpart to Viagra (sildenafil).

The need for such compounds reflects the difficulties experienced by many clinicians with the behavioral treatments such as "sensate focus," first pioneered by Masters and Johnson.[1] These techniques require a commitment by couples to seek therapy and to come to sessions together, thus precluding their use for those who do not have a current sexual partner or one willing to cooperate with therapy and those not interested in counseling techniques. While there have been some evaluative studies finding improvement for couples committed to therapy,[2,3] there has been little attempt to evaluate behavioral techniques of sex therapy for those without partners or when the therapy is combined with marital therapy or physical treatments.


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