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Sex Med Rev. 2019 Jun 13. pii: S2050-0521(19)30037-X. doi: 10.1016/j.sxmr.2019.04.002. [Epub ahead of print]

Lumping, Splitting, and Treating: Therapies Are Needed for Women With Overlapping Sexual Dysfunctions.

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New Fairfield, CT, USA.
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA. Electronic address:



Phase-specific diagnoses, such as hypoactive sexual desire disorder, are the norm in sexual medicine. Epidemiologic surveys and clinical trials show the value of this structure for understanding and treating premenopausal sexual dysfunction; however, postmenopausal women have sexual dysfunction in >1 phase, for example, in desire and arousal.


To evaluate the evidence for mixed or global sexual dysfunction in women, identify associated comorbidities, and determine the best available treatment.


Literature review of epidemiologic surveys and clinical trials to quantitate overlap in sexual dysfunction and render conclusions about treatments.


The main outcome measures were the Changes in Sexual Functioning Questionnaire and the Female Sexual Function Index.


Overlap of sexual dysfunction in women is low to moderate before menopause, but it is high after menopause. Data suggest that clinical trials of postmenopausal women diagnosed with hypoactive sexual desire disorder actually entered patients with mixed or global sexual dysfunction and that benefits were pan-phasic rather than concentrated on desire. Whether local/vaginal products for the genitourinary syndrome of menopause impact all phases of sexual dysfunction is under study. Women treated for breast or gynecologic cancer or taking antidepressants also have global sexual dysfunction. Treatment options are limited but support mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy and others. Other strategies include adding or switching to a serotonin 1A receptor agonist (eg, buspirone, flibanserin), a serotonin 2A receptor antagonist (eg, flibanserin, trazodone), or a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (eg, bupropion). Elimination of hormonal contraception in premenopausal women and adding hormonal therapies in postmenopausal women may be necessary.


Practitioners should be alert to overlap of sexual dysfunction in women. Focusing diagnostics and treatment on individual phases of sexual function is appropriate in premenopausal patients, but global sexual dysfunction is more likely in women taking antidepressants or cancer chemotherapy or during and after the menopausal transition. More safe, broadly effective treatments for mixed sexual dysfunction are needed for these populations of women. Pyke RE, Clayton AH. Lumping, Splitting, and Treating: Therapies Are Needed for Women With Overlapping Sexual Dysfunctions. Sex Med Rev 2019;XX:XXX-XXX.


Breast Cancer; Hormonal; Postmenopausal; Premenopausal; Sexual Dysfunction; Women


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