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Annu Rev Sex Res. 2004;15:40-172.

A systematic review of the literature on female sexual dysfunction prevalence and predictors.

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  • 1Cecil G Sheps Center for Health Services Research, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599-7590, USA.


Interest in human sexuality began in the 18th century, but formal and more rigorous studies focused on sexual satisfaction and sexual practices were published in the early 1900s. Alfred Kinsey's pioneering work on sexuality, in which he surveyed over 10,000 men and women age 16 and older, began in the late 1930s. In the mid-1960s, Masters and Johnson published their seminal work characterizing the sexual response cycle. Since then, numerous researchers have attempted to understand and to quantify "normal" sexual behaviors using survey techniques. We conducted a systematic review of the published literature on the prevalence of female sexual dysfunction overall and, more specifically, on sexual desire disorder, arousal difficulties, anorgasmia, and dyspareunia. The review also encompassed dysfunction related to the reproductive factors, such as pregnancy, hysterectomy, and menopause. We included sexual dysfunction comorbid with diabetes, depression, and antidepressant therapies. In total, 85 studies are summarized in this review, which spans literature from the early 1900s to the present. We performed a quality assessment of each study, defining quality based on the representativeness of the population studied and the rigor of the instruments used for assessing sexual dysfunction. Although none of the 85 studies included in the review met both standards of quality, some met one criterion and not the other. Definitions of female sexual dysfunction have been developed and refined recently, but there is an urgent need to determine measurable outcomes that can be used for future work.

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