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

Classifications of Female Sexual Dysfunction

There has been controversy in the world of psychotherapy as to whether or not a diagnosis of a psychosocial issue, thereby pathologizing it, is really necessary. The question arises as to whether labeling causes more harm than good. However, if there is to be progress in the development and testing of treatment methods for psychogenic and organic FSD, a classification system is needed to assure that uniform criteria are used to evaluate and diagnose subjects.

For the purpose of this article, the specific criteria and definitions for women with sexual dysfunction put forth by the American Psychiatric Association (APA, 1994) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th Edition (DSM-IV) are used to help understand the differing presentations of FSD. At the beginning of each category's discussion, the DSM-IV diagnostic code is listed in parentheses.

A sexual dysfunction is characterized by a disturbance in the processes of the normal sexual response cycle or by pain associated with sexual intercourse. According to the APA (1994), there are four classifications of sexual dysfunction (see Table 1 ). Each of these conditions will be discussed in detail. Note that most definitions of a sexual dysfunction require that the condition causes distress for the patient. Women who have a condition but do not suffer distress can be argued to not have a clinically significant malady.


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