3 years ago

Opinion Paper: On the Diagnosis/Classification of Sexual Arousal Concerns in Women

In the professional literature and among our professional societies, female sexual dysfunction nomenclature and diagnostic criterion sets have been the source of considerable controversy. Recently, a consensus group, supported by the International Society for Women’s Sexual Health, published its recommendations for nosology and nomenclature, which included only one type of arousal dysfunction, female genital arousal disorder, in its classification system. Subjective arousal was considered an aspect of sexual desire and not part of the arousal phase. Aim To advocate for the importance of including subjective arousal disorder in the diagnostic nomenclature in addition to the genital arousal subtype. Methods We reviewed how the construct of subjective arousal was included in or eliminated from the iterations of various diagnostic and statistical manuals. The Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) was used to examine the relations among subjective arousal, genital arousal, and desire in women with and without sexual arousal concerns. Main Outcome Measures Sexual arousal through a self-report Film Scale, physiologic sexual arousal through vaginal photoplethysmography in response to an erotic film, and the FSFI. Results The clinical literature and experience support differentiating subjective arousal from desire and genital arousal. Correlations between the FSFI domains representing desire and subjective arousal, although sufficient to suggest relatedness, share approximately 58% of the variance between constructs—a lower shared variance than FSFI domains representing subjective arousal and orgasm. Similarly, when looking at FSFI individual items best representative of sexual desire and subjective arousal, the large majority of the variance in subjective arousal was unexplained by desire. A third line of evidence showed no significant difference in levels of subjective arousal to erotic films between sexually functional women and women with desire problems. If desire and subjective arousal were the same construct, then one would expect to see evidence of low subjective arousal in women with low sexual desire. Clinical Implications Optimized treatment efficacy requires differentiating mental and physical factors that contribute to female sexual dysfunction. Strengths and Limitations Support for our conclusion is based on clinical qualitative evidence and quantitative evidence. However, the quantitative support is from only one laboratory at this time. Conclusion These findings strongly support the view that female sexual arousal disorder includes a subjective arousal subtype and that subjective arousal and desire are related but not similar constructs. We advocate for the relevance of maintaining subjective arousal disorder in the diagnostic nomenclature and present several lines of evidence to support this contention.-Abstract Truncated-

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S1743609517313942

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