Psychological and interpersonal dimensions of sexual function and dysfunction

J Sex Med. 2010 Jan;7(1 Pt 2):327-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01618.x.


Introduction: There are limited outcome data on the etiology and efficacy of psychological interventions for male and female sexual dysfunction as well as the role of innovative combined treatment paradigms.

Aim: This study aimed to highlight the salient psychological and interpersonal issues contributing to sexual health and dysfunction, to offer an etiological model for understanding the evolution and maintenance of sexual symptoms, and to offer recommendations for clinical management and research.

Methods: This study reviewed the current literature on the psychological and interpersonal issues contributing to male and female sexual dysfunction.

Main outcome measure: This study provides expert opinion based on a comprehensive review of the medical and psychological literature, widespread internal committee discussion, public presentation, and debate.

Results: Medical and psychological therapies for sexual dysfunctions should address the intricate biopsychosocial influences of the patient, the partner, and the couple. The biopsychosocial model provides an integrated paradigm for understanding and treating sexual dysfunction.

Conclusions: There is need for collaboration between healthcare practitioners from different disciplines in the evaluation, treatment, and education issues surrounding sexual dysfunction. In many cases, neither psychotherapy alone nor medical intervention alone is sufficient for the lasting resolution of sexual problems. The assessment of male, female, and couples' sexual dysfunction should ideally include inquiry about predisposing, precipitating, maintaining, and contextual factors. Research is needed to identify efficacious combined and/or integrated treatments for sexual dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / prevention & control
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / prevention & control
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Libido
  • Love
  • Male
  • Sex Counseling / methods*
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / diagnosis
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / etiology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / psychology*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*