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

Female Orgasmic Disorder

Female Orgasmic Disorder (302.73, DSM-IV) (formerly known "inhibited female orgasm") is characterized by the persistent or recurrent, delay in, or absence of, orgasm following a normal sexual excitement phase. To be considered a significant condition, this should cause distress for the patient, and not be caused by another medical condition or use of drugs (such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Because women experience different variability in the type and intensity of stimulation that triggers orgasm, the diagnosis should be based on what would be reasonable for their age, sexual experience, and the adequacy of sexual stimulation.

Many women with orgasmic disorders have experienced this problem their entire lives. New-onset problems should make the clinician probe for new medical issues (neurologic signs or recent initiation of antidepressant therapy), or new psychosocial stressors, such as relationship issues, abuse, and depression.

In the National Health and Social Life Survey, 1,749 women ages 18 to 59 were surveyed about their sexual function (Laumann, Paik, & Rosen, 1999). Persistent or recurrent inability to achieve orgasm over the last year was reported in 25%. Unmarried women and those without a college degree were more likely to have problems with orgasm (Laumann et al., 1999). Recent studies report a lifetime incidence of total or partial orgasm difficulties of between 16% to 30% (Paik & Laumann, 2006). Approximately 5% of women have never achieved an orgasm (Klassen & Wilsnack, 1986).


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