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J Sex Med. 2016 Dec;13(12):1881-1887. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.09.014. Epub 2016 Oct 12.

Toward a More Evidence-Based Nosology and Nomenclature for Female Sexual Dysfunctions-Part I.

Author information

Maryland Center for Sexual Health, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Ridgefield, CT, USA.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA.
New England Research Institutes, Inc., Watertown, MA, USA.
Departments of Psychiatry and Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA. Electronic address:



A nomenclature is defined as a classification system for assigning names or terms in a scientific discipline. A nosology more specifically provides a scientific classification system for diseases or disorders. Historically, the nosologic system informing female sexual dysfunction (FSD) has been the system developed by the American Psychiatric Association in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III through DSM-5). Experts have recognized limitations of its use in clinical practice, including concerns that the DSM-5 system does not adequately reflect the spectrum and presentation of FSD.


To review the central considerations and issues that underlie the development of a new evidence-based nomenclature that reliably and validly defines the categories of FSD and will effectively function in clinical and research settings, serve as a basis for International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes, and provide regulatory guidance for interventions designed as FSD treatments.


The International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health conducted a 2-day conference on nomenclature for FSD in December 2013. Key opinion leaders representing diverse areas of expertise discussed ideal characteristics, existing DSM definitions, and current and future ICD coding to develop consensus for this new nomenclature.


A comprehensive appreciation of the parameters and characteristics essential to a new FSD nomenclature and terminology that will serve as the principal nosology for the description and diagnosis of FSD.


A critical appraisal of the essential elements of a classification system for diagnosing FSD was accomplished. The applicability of DSM-5 FSD definitions was challenged; and the considerations for developing a new nomenclature were discussed, including comorbidities, clinical thresholds, alternative etiologies, and validity.


The essential elements for developing a valid, reliable, credible, and clinically applicable nosology for FSD were enumerated as a preamble to constructing the actual nosologic system (Part II).


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition; Female Sexual Dysfunction; Female Sexual Interest Arousal Disorder; International Classification of Diseases; Nomenclature; Nosology

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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