Recent advances in women's sexual function and dysfunction

Menopause. Nov-Dec 2004;11(6 Pt 2):714-25. doi: 10.1097/01.gme.0000138542.65917.fb.


Current reconceptualization of women's sexual response acknowledges that women have many reasons or incentives for engaging in sex over and beyond sexual desire. Normative changes in their sexuality across the life span, with reproductive events, and with duration of relationship are recognized. Psychophysiological and preliminary functional magnetic resonance imaging data clarify that women's subjective experience of arousal may correlate poorly with signals reflective of genital congestion and also correlate poorly with activation of areas of the brain involved in organizing the reflexive genital vasocongestion. These aspects have been incorporated into new models of sexual response. Definitions of women's sexual dysfunction have recently been revised and expanded in keeping with these concepts. Mental well-being and other psychological and biological factors modulating desire, arousability, and response are areas of active research. Current understanding of the pathophysiology of chronic pain can be applied to the chronic intermittent pain and allodynia of chronic dyspareunia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dyspareunia*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological*
  • Sexuality*
  • Women's Health