Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 389-408

First online:

Incidence and prevalence of the sexual dysfunctions: A critical review of the empirical literature

  • Ilana P. SpectorAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Syracuse University
  • , Michael P. CareyAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Syracuse University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


The research which has assessed the incidence and prevalence of sexual dysfunctions is reviewed. Twenty-three studies are evaluated. Studies completed with community samples indicate a current prevalence of 5–10% for inhibited female orgasm, 4–9% for male erectile disorder, 4–10% for inhibited male orgasm, and 36–38% for premature ejaculation. Stable community estimates with regard to the current prevalence of female sexual arousal disorder, vaginismus, and dyspareunia are not available. Recent studies completed with clinical samples suggest an increase in the frequency of orgasmic and erectile dysfunction and a decrease in premature ejaculation as presenting problems. Desire disorders have increased as presenting problems in sex clinics, with recent data indicating that males outnumber females. Methodological limitations of these studies are identified and suggestions for future research are offered.

Key words

sexual dysfunction prevalence incidence epidemiology sexuality