Prevalence of Women’s Sexual Desire Problems: What Criteria Do We Use?
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Problems of sexual desire are often cited as the most prevalent of the female sexual dysfunctions. Despite this finding, considerable variability exists when comparing prevalence figures across studies, highlighting the inconsistency in how these problems are defined and therefore measured. The current study was designed to determine how the prevalence estimates of women’s sexual desire problems varied according to the diagnostic criteria adopted to define such problems. The sample consisted of 741 women from Australia, the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Participants were between 18 and 71 years of age and were involved in a heterosexual relationship spanning between 3 months and 49 years duration. Sexual desire problems were defined using a variety of criteria, including (1) meeting DSM-IV-TR criteria for Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), (2) meeting DSM-IV-TR criteria for HSDD, removing the sexual thoughts/fantasy requirement, (3) self-identified “lack of sexual interest,” and (4) low average ratings of sexual desire levels, as assessed using the Female Sexual Desire Questionnaire. The prevalence of sexual desire problems varied from 3.0 to 31.0 % depending upon the criteria used to define such problems. It is important to reach a consensus with regard to the criteria used to define sexual desire problems, in order to standardize and compare studies investigating these problems. How women’s sexual desire problems are conceptualized has implications for their treatment. Therapists may or may not need to address absent sexual thoughts/fantasies and may be working with low normative levels of desire versus subjective evaluations of low desire.
KeywordsHypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder Sexual dysfunction Women DSM-5
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