The DSM Diagnostic Criteria for Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder in Men


Lori A. Brotto, PhD, Obstetrics/Gynaecology, University of British Columbia—2775 Laurel Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V5Z1M9, Canada. Tel: 604-875-4111 x68898; Fax: 604-875-4869; E-mail:


Introduction.  Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) is one of two sexual desire disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and is defined by two criteria: A—“persistently or recurrently deficient (or absent) sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity” and B—“marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.”

Aim.  This paper reviews the prevalence and correlates of low desire in men and qualitative and quantitative research on the experience of sexual desire in men and women.

Methods.  A literature search of Medline, PudMed, and PsychInfo was used to identify any publication on low desire in men.

Main Outcome Measure.  The strength of empirical findings was used as a basis for making proposed revisions to the diagnostic criteria for HSDD in men.

Results.  The dilemma of whether desire and arousal can be reliably differentiated in men is discussed, and parallels to the literature in women are drawn. Finally, I consider three options for the diagnosis of low desire in men for DSM-5. Option 1 proposes that the DSM-IV-TR name and criteria are preserved for men in DSM-5. Option 2 proposes that the recently proposed criteria for Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder in women are also adopted for men, which would result in one gender-neutral category. Option 3 proposes that the criteria for Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder also be applied to men, with a minor modification to one criterion (i.e., that absent or reduced genital and/or nongenital physical changes not be included as a criterion); this diagnosis would then be applied only to men.

Conclusions.  The evidence supporting each of these proposals is presented and critiqued. It is concluded that the proposal for DSM-5 should be made on the basis of field testing of new criteria. Brotto LA. The DSM diagnostic criteria for hypoactive sexual desire disorder in men. J Sex Med 2010;7:2015–2030.