Risk factors for female sexual dysfunction in the general population: exploring factors associated with low sexual function and sexual distress

J Sex Med. 2008 Jul;5(7):1681-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2008.00838.x.


Introduction: No previous population-based studies have used validated instruments to measure female sexual dysfunction (FSD) in Australian women across a broad age range.

Aim: To estimate prevalence and explore factors associated with the components of FSD.

Main outcome measures: Sexual Function Questionnaire measured low sexual function. Female Sexual Distress Scale measured sexual distress. Methods. Multivariate analysis of postal survey data from a random sample of 356 women aged 20-70 years.

Results: Low desire was more likely to occur in women in relationships for 20-29 years (odds ratio 3.7, 95% confidence intervals 1.1-12.8) and less likely in women reporting greater satisfaction with their partner as a lover (0.3, 0.1-0.9) or who placed greater importance on sex (0.1, 0.03-0.3). Low genital arousal was more likely among women who were perimenopausal (4.4, 1.2-15.7), postmenopausal (5.3, 1.6-17.7), or depressed (2.5, 1.1-5.3), and was less likely in women taking hormone therapy (0.2, 0.04-0.7), more educated (0.5, 0.3-0.96), in their 30s (0.2, 0.1-0.7) or 40s (0.2, 0.1-0.7), or placed greater importance on sex (0.2, 0.05-0.5). Low orgasmic function was less likely in women who were in their 30s (0.3, 0.1-0.8) or who placed greater importance on sex (0.3, 0.1-0.7). Sexual distress was positively associated with depression (3.1, 1.2-7.8) and was inversely associated with better communication of sexual needs (0.2, 0.05-0.5). Results were adjusted for other covariates including age, psychological, socioeconomic, physiological, and relationship factors.

Conclusions: Relationship factors were more important to low desire than age or menopause, whereas physiological and psychological factors were more important to low genital arousal and low orgasmic function than relationship factors. Sexual distress was associated with both psychological and relationship factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Libido*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prevalence
  • Psychological Tests
  • Psychometrics
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires