Diagnosing Sexual Dysfunction in Men and Women: Sexual History Taking and the Role of Symptom Scales and Questionnaires

J Sex Med. 2016 Aug;13(8):1166-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.05.017.


Introduction: A detailed sexual history is the cornerstone for all sexual problem assessments and sexual dysfunction diagnoses. Diagnostic evaluation is based on an in-depth sexual history, including sexual and gender identity and orientation, sexual activity and function, current level of sexual function, overall health and comorbidities, partner relationship and interpersonal factors, and the role of cultural and personal expectations and attitudes.

Aim: To propose key steps in the diagnostic evaluation of sexual dysfunctions, with special focus on the use of symptom scales and questionnaires.

Methods: Critical assessment of the current literature by the International Consultation on Sexual Medicine committee.

Main outcome measures: A revised algorithm for the management of sexual dysfunctions, level of evidence, and recommendation for scales and questionnaires.

Results: The International Consultation on Sexual Medicine proposes an updated algorithm for diagnostic evaluation of sexual dysfunction in men and women, with specific recommendations for sexual history taking and diagnostic evaluation. Standardized scales, checklists, and validated questionnaires are additional adjuncts that should be used routinely in sexual problem evaluation. Scales developed for specific patient groups are included. Results of this evaluation are presented with recommendations for clinical and research uses.

Conclusion: Defined principles, an algorithm and a range of scales may provide coherent and evidence based management for sexual dysfunctions.

Keywords: Algorithm; Diagnosis; Questionnaires; Scales; Sexual History.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorders / psychology
  • Culture
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Fecal Incontinence / psychology
  • Female
  • Female Urogenital Diseases / psychology
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Libido
  • Linguistics
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking / methods*
  • Medical History Taking / standards
  • Multiple Sclerosis / psychology
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse / psychology
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of Life
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Self Report
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / diagnosis*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / psychology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / diagnosis*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / psychology
  • Sexual Partners
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*
  • Urinary Incontinence / psychology


  • Antipsychotic Agents