Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 240–255

The DSM Diagnostic Criteria for Female Sexual Arousal Disorder

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10508-009-9535-1

Cite this article as:
Graham, C.A. Arch Sex Behav (2010) 39: 240. doi:10.1007/s10508-009-9535-1


This article reviews and critiques the DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria for Female Sexual Arousal Disorder (FSAD). An overview of how the diagnostic criteria for FSAD have evolved over previous editions of the DSM is presented and research on prevalence and etiology of FSAD is briefly reviewed. Problems with the essential feature of the DSM-IV-TR diagnosis—“an inability to attain, or to maintain…an adequate lubrication-swelling response of sexual excitement”—are identified. The significant overlap between “arousal” and “desire” disorders is highlighted. Finally, specific recommendations for revision of the criteria for DSM-V are made, including use of a polythetic approach to the diagnosis and the addition of duration and severity criteria.


Sexual arousal disorderDSM-VSexual problemsWomen

Copyright information

© American Psychiatric Association 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oxford Doctoral Course in Clinical Psychology, Isis Education CentreWarneford HospitalOxfordUK