• DSM-IV Sexual Dysfunctions;
  • Female Sexual Arousal Disorder;
  • Premenopausal;
  • Psychophysiological Assessment

Support Statement: This research was supported by a Sir Izaak Walton Killam Predoctoral Fellowship to LAB and a University of British Columbia Humanities and Social Sciences Grant.


Introduction.  Female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD) is a complex diagnostic category whose definition continues to evolve.

Aim.  The purpose of this study was to explore the physiological patterns of genital arousal in 31 women with and 30 women without sexual arousal difficulties using a vaginal photoplethysmograph. In addition, subtypes of FSAD, based on a recently proposed redefinition, were explored on measures of sexual arousal.

Results.  Whereas there were no psychophysiological or subjective sexual arousal differences when the entire group of women with arousal complaints was compared to a control group, significant differences emerged when subtypes of arousal disorder were compared. Only women fitting the description of “Genital Arousal Disorder” showed evidence of impaired psychophysiological arousal, whereas those characterized with “Subjective Sexual Arousal Disorder” and “Combined Genital and Subjective Sexual Arousal Disorder” did not differ from the control group. These subgroups also differed in the correlation between psychophysiological and subjective arousal.

Conclusion.  Overall, there is evidence for diagnostic heterogeneity in FSAD which supports the recent redefinition of this disorder into subtypes.