Original Paper

Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 240-255

First online:

The DSM Diagnostic Criteria for Female Sexual Arousal Disorder

  • Cynthia A. GrahamAffiliated withOxford Doctoral Course in Clinical Psychology, Isis Education Centre, Warneford Hospital Email author 

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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 disorder DSM-V Sexual problems Women