Original Paper

Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 221-239

First online:

The DSM Diagnostic Criteria for Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder in Women

  • Lori A. BrottoAffiliated withDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of British Columbia Email author 

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Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) is one of two sexual desire disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and is defined by the monosymptomatic criterion “persistently or recurrently deficient (or absent) sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity” that causes “marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.” This article reviews the diagnosis of HSDD in prior and current (DSM-IV-TR) editions of the DSM, critiques the existing criteria, and proposes criteria for consideration in DSM-V. Problems in coming to a clear operational definition of desire, the fact that sexual activity often occurs in the absence of desire for women, conceptual issues in understanding untriggered versus responsive desire, the relative infrequency of unprovoked sexual fantasies in women, and the significant overlap between desire and arousal are reviewed and highlight the need for revised DSM criteria for HSDD that accurately reflect women’s experiences. The article concludes with the recommendation that desire and arousal be combined into one disorder with polythetic criteria.


Hypoactive sexual desire disorder Sexual interest Sexual desire DSM-V