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

Classification of Female Sexual Dysfunction

A major barrier to the development of scientific research in this area has been the absence of a well-defined, broadly accepted diagnostic framework and classification for female sexual dysfunction. The Sexual Function Health Council of the American Foundation for Urologic Disease convened a consensus panel to reevaluate and better define and classify female sexual dysfunction.[8] The International Consensus Development Conference on Female Sexual Dysfunction followed well-documented and established procedures to examine the literature and develop a classification system suitable for clinical diagnosis and research purposes. Classically, the definitions of female sexual dysfunction have been modeled on the human sexual response cycle first described by Masters and Johnson[9] and later elaborated by Kaplan.[10] Their work formed the basis for the diagnostic systems of both the ICD-10[11] and DSM IV.[12] This year, the panel has released the consensus definitions of female sexual dysfunction (Table),[8] which provide a common language for women, researchers, and clinicians to communicate with each other and a basis for further research of prevalence, etiology, and therapy of dysfunction. One of the major changes in the classification schema was to add "personal distress" as a criterion of the diagnosis.

For clinical trial purposes, it is useful to have separate categories, particularly when evaluating pharmacologic effects that may differentially affect aspects of sexual function. However, there is significant comorbidity among diagnostic categories.[8]


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