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Int J Impot Res. 2004 Jun;16(3):261-9.

On categorization and quantification of women's sexual dysfunctions: an epidemiological approach.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, Rehabilitation Medicine and Sexology Unit, Neurocenter, University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden.


The objectives of this study are to compare the two definitions of female sexual dysfunction, namely dysfunction per se (A category) and personal distress caused by dysfunction (B category), and to gauge their associations with some sociodemographic aspects and level of sexual well-being. The subjects were a nationally representative sample of sexually active Swedish women (n: 1056) aged 18-65 y, who participated in a combined structured interview/questionnaire investigation. The functions analysed were: self-reported sexual desire, interest, lubrication, orgasm, genital pain and vaginism, which were subclassified for the A and B categories into no, mild (sporadically occurring) and manifest dysfunction. Sexual well-being was reported along a six-grade scale ranging from very satisfied to very dissatisfied. The sociodemographic items registered were: education, occupation, financial situation, social group, immigrant status, location of domicile and church-going. Aggregated mild and manifest dysfunction per se of sexual interest, orgasm and vaginal lubrication were reported by about 60-90%. More than one-third had dyspareunia, but few reported vaginism. Mild dysfunctions were clearly more common than manifest dysfunctions. Not fully 45% of those with manifest low interest and orgasm perceived these dysfunctions as manifestly distressing, while in 60-70% lubricational insufficiency of dyspareunia led to manifest distress. Age and the included sociodemographic variables had marginal or no influence on sexual functions. A four-factor sexual function pattern was identified, closely linking A and B categories in a pairwise manner. Three factors, labelled sexual desire, orgasm and genital function were powerful classifiers (discriminant analysis) of level of sexual well-being. Hence, it is a matter of taste whether to use the A or the B category. Together, they can explain the gross level of satisfaction with sexual life to an adequate extent.

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