The Genetics and Epidemiology of Female Sexual Dysfunction: A Review


Andrea Burri, MSc, Department for Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, St. Thomas' Hospital 1st Floor South Wing, Westminsterbridge Road, SE1 7EH London. Tel: 0044 79 4380 2987; Fax: 0044 (0)20 7188 6718; E-mail:


Introduction.  Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) is an often underestimated and common problem with serious effects on women's quality of life. Despite a high overall prevalence in the female population—exceeding that of male sexual dysfunction—until recently, little research has focused on this area. In contrast to the successful advances of genetic research in a wide variety of human diseases, genetic exploration in FSD lags far behind.

Aim.  The aim of this review is to acquaint the reader with the current behavioral and molecular genetic research in the field of FSD.

Methods.  Because of the heterogeneity of the included studies, we are providing a nonsystematic review.

Results.  Recent epidemiological and candidate gene studies have suggested a strong genetic influence on female sexual functioning. While these findings provide a clear rationale for more genetic research in the field, they need to be replicated on a much larger scale to be definitive.

Conclusions.  Successful identification of biomarkers and novel genes underlying FSD should improve the diagnosis, identification, and treatment of different subgroups. Future pharmacotherapeutic approaches to FSD will benefit from novel targets and the concept that individual variations have a genetic component may help destigmatize our views of sexual problems. Burri AV, Cherkas LM, and Spector TD. The genetics and epidemiology of female sexual dysfunction (FSD): A review. J Sex Med 2009;6:646–657.