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Arch Sex Behav. 2010 Apr;39(2):240-55. doi: 10.1007/s10508-009-9535-1.

The DSM diagnostic criteria for female sexual arousal disorder.

Author information

  • Oxford Doctoral Course in Clinical Psychology, Isis Education Centre, Warneford Hospital, Headington, Oxford, OX3 7JX, UK. cynthia.graham@hmc.ox.ac.uk


This article reviews and critiques the DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria for Female Sexual Arousal Disorder (FSAD). An overview of how the diagnostic criteria for FSAD have evolved over previous editions of the DSM is presented and research on prevalence and etiology of FSAD is briefly reviewed. Problems with the essential feature of the DSM-IV-TR diagnosis-"an inability to attain, or to maintain...an adequate lubrication-swelling response of sexual excitement"-are identified. The significant overlap between "arousal" and "desire" disorders is highlighted. Finally, specific recommendations for revision of the criteria for DSM-V are made, including use of a polythetic approach to the diagnosis and the addition of duration and severity criteria.

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