Women's Sexual Desire and Arousal Disorders

Lori A. Brotto, PhD, Johannes Bitzer, MD, PhD, Ellen Laan, PhD, Sandra Leiblum, PhD, and Mijal Luria, MD

Correction for The Journal of Sexual Medicine 2008;7(1):586–614.

The last entry on Table 2 on page 590 was formatted incorrectly. Below is the table as it should have appeared:

Table 2.  Prevalence of sexual desire and arousal difficulties in cross-sectional representative studies
StudySample characteristicsAgeIn a sexual relationshipDistress measuredPrevalence of desire difficultiesPrevalence of arousal difficulties
  1. NHSLS = National Health and Social Life Survey; NATSAL = National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyle; n/a = not applicable; GSSAB = Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors; WISHeS = Women's International Study of Health and Sexuality; HSDD = hypoactive sexual desire disorder.

Laumann et al. [36]1,749 American women (NHSLS)18–59Had to be sexually active over the past 12 monthsNo27–32% Critical symptom for diagnosis had to be present in the past 12 months20.6% trouble lubricating
Fugl-Meyer and Fugl-Meyer [37]1,335 Swedish women18–74Not necessaryIndirectly with the question: “Has this been a problem in your sexual life during the last year?”Sexual disability was defined as having low desire quite often/nearly all the time/all the time = 34%. Among these, 43% viewed it as a problem. Symptom had to have occurred in the past 12 monthsSexual disability was defined as having insufficient vaginal lubrication during intercourse quite often/nearly all the time/all the time = 12%. Among these, 63% viewed it as a problem.
Mercer et al. [38]11,161 British men and women (NATSAL)16–44Must have had at least one partner in past yearNoLow desire lasting 1 month: 40%; lasting 6 months: 10%Lubrication problems lasting 1 month: 9.2%; lasting 6 months: 2.6%
Bancroft et al. [28]987 American women; half were African-American20–65Not necessaryAssessed distress over the relationship and distress to one's own sexualityLow desire: 7.2% Sexual experiences over the preceding month were assessedLubrication problems: 31.2%; Impaired arousal: 12.2%
Oberg et al. [26]1,056 Swedish women recruited in 199619–65Must have had sexual intercourse once in past yearManifest distress: experienced quite often, nearly all the time, or all of the timeLow desire: Manifest—29%; Mild—60% Symptoms were assessed over the previous 12 monthsInsufficient lubrication: Manifest—12%; Mild—50%
Laumann et al. [39]13,882 women recruited internationally. Analyses based on 9,000 sexually active women (GSSAB)40–80Must have had sexual intercourse once in past yearNo26–43% across countries reported a lack of interest in sex lasting for a period of 2 months or more16.1–37.9% across countries
Leiblum et al. [40]952 American surgically or naturally women (WISHeS)20–70Currently sexually activePersonal Distress Scale24–36% depending on age and menopausal status. Among those who also had distress, rates of HSDD ranged from 9% to 26%. Symptoms occurring in the past 30 days were assessedn/a
Dennerstein et al. [41]2,467 European women from France, Germany, Italy, UK, and United States (WISHeS)20–70Currently sexually activePersonal Distress Scale16–46% depending on age and menopausal status. Among those who also had distress, rates of HSDD ranged from 7% to 16%. Symptoms occurring in the past 30 days were assessedn/a
West et al. [42]755 American premenopausal, 552 naturally menopausal, and 637 surgically menopausal women30–70In stable relationships for at least 3 monthsPersonal Distress ScaleOverall rate of low desire 36.2%. Overall rate of HSDD 8.3%. Symptoms in the past 30 days were assessedn/a
Witting et al. [43]5,463 Finnish women18–49Must have engaged in sexual activity with a partner over the past 4 weeks.Female Sexual Distress Scale (FSDS)Using FSFI cut-off score of 3.16, 55% had low desire. Using FSDS cut-off score of 8.75, 23% had low desire and distress. Symptoms were assessed in the past 4 weeksUsing FSFI cut-off score of 4.31, 10.9% had lubrication difficulties. Using FSDS cut-off score, 7% had lubrication problem plus distress.
Shifren et al. [27]13,581 women United States18–102Not necessarySexual desire assessed with one question: “How often do you desire to engage in sexual activity?” Distress assessed by FSDS38.7% had low desire, overall. Between 7.4%–12.3%, across ages, had low desire and distress.26.1% had low arousal, overall. Between 3.3%–7.5%, across ages, had low arousal and distress.