The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual was created by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The manual is a guide to the various definitions of mental illness. The guidelines created by the APA specifically outline the fact that any condition associated with the lack of sexual desire or arousal is a sexual dysfunction; this applies to both men and women. Even conditions that are related to an inability to control an orgasm and/or intercourse pain are sexual dysfunctions as well.
It is important to keep in mind that many sexual dysfunctions are caused by one or more underlying physical factors — hormone imbalances, substance abuse, chronic illness, heart disease, etc.
Before 2013, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual outlined two female sexual disorders known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder and female sexual arousal disorder. Both of these disorders have been replaced by female sexual interest/arousal disorder, which is defined as a mental health condition. The replacement of the two disorders took place because there’s a scientific consensus that in sexual situations, it’s not easy to define the difference between desire and arousal.
All women have varying levels of sexual desire and arousal, and being that desire and arousal cannot be clearly distinguished from one another, there is no way to give either a proper female hypoactive sexual desire disorder or female sexual arousal disorder diagnosis. Instead, when a physician believes that a female suffers from either disorder, the proper diagnosis is female sexual interest/arousal disorder.
Before a doctor can give this diagnosis, the onset of the symptoms must have occurred at least six months prior. Additionally, the woman must endure three or more of the following symptoms:
- Absence of an interest in sexual activity
- No thoughts of having sex
- Not inclined to start sexual encounters
- Sex is not pleasurable
Before a final diagnosis is given, physicians usually require that their patients undergo a full physical examination to make sure no physiological issue is the culprit. If it is, medication may be needed. Pharmacological interventions generally take place before psychotherapy is recommended or started.
Professional care is of the utmost importance
If you don’t have a satisfying sex life and you don’t know what the cause is, then it’s important to visit a physician who specializes in female sexual dysfunctions. Through assessments and examinations, a diagnosis can be given and treatment can begin.
One or more of the following treatment methods may be recommended to help you cope with female sexual interest/arousal disorder:
- Cognitive behavioral interventions
- Treatment for psychiatric conditions
- Treatment for concomitant medical conditions
- Sexual arousal education