Essentials of Female Sexual Dysfunction from a Sex Therapy Perspective

Linda E. Ohl, MSW, CSW, ACH


Urol Nurs. 2007;27(1):57-63. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Female sexual dysfunction is a prevalent problem. Although newer studies are implicating medical risk factors and possible treatments, most patients are currently treated by psychotherapists. The evaluation and treatment of female sexual dysfunction are reviewed from a therapist´s perspective.

Discussing sexual issues with a clinician should be easy and natural for patients. However, data suggest that this is not the case. Clinicians are not talking about sex with their patients. In a recent poll of adult patients in the United States, only 9% of those aged 40 to 80 years of age were asked about sexual concerns by their physicians in the last 3 years (Moreira et al., 2005).

Furthermore, when sexual dysfunction is present, patients will not broach the topic with their clinicians. In another study, reasons for men not bringing the topic to the forefront during their medical encounters were examined. Fifty-one percent were fearful that the clinician would dismiss their concerns, 46% fear the clinician would be uncomfortable, and 46% were concerned there would be no medical treatment available (Marwick, 1999).

In the current environment, with constraints on the amount of time that can be spent with each patient, coupled with the discomforts previously mentioned, it is highly likely that individuals will not have their sexual dysfunction addressed during a standard medical encounter. Nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants are in a position to help fill this gap in the total care of the patient by initiating conversation with patients.

The purpose of this article is to review the basics of normal and abnormal female sexual function, and provide a set of tools with which to approach women suffering from sexual dysfunction, including guidelines on when to refer to a sex therapist.


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