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Experts Publish Sexual Dysfunction Guidelines

Experts Publish Sexual Dysfunction Guidelines

Even though more than two out of five adult women and one out of five adult men experience sexual dysfunction in their lifetime, underdiagnosis occurs frequently. To increase recognition and care, multidisciplinary teams of experts recently published diagnostic algorithms and treatment guidelines.

The recommendations emanated from the 2nd International Consultation on Sexual Medicine held in Paris from June 28 to July 1, 2003, in collaboration with major urology and sexual medicine associations. Psychiatrists were among the 200 experts from 60 countries who prepared reports on such topics as revised definitions of women's sexual dysfunction, disorders of orgasm and ejaculation in men, and epidemiology and risk factors of sexual dysfunction. Several committees' summary findings and recommendations were published recently in the International Society for Sexual and Impotence Research's inaugural issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Full text of the committees' reports is in Second International Consultation on Sexual Medicine: Sexual Medicine, Sexual Dysfunctions in Men and Women (Lue et al., 2004a).

"The First [International] Consultation in 1999 was restricted to the topic of erectile dysfunction. The second consultation broadened the focus widely to include all of the male and female sexual dysfunctions. The conference was truly multidisciplinary in orientation and patient-centered in its approach to treatment," Raymond Rosen, Ph.D., a vice chair of the international meeting, told Psychiatric Times. Rosen is also associate professor of psychiatry and medicine and director of the Human Sexuality Program at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

"Sexual problems are highly prevalent in men and women, yet frequently under-recognized and under-diagnosed in clinical practice," even among clinicians who acknowledge the relevance of addressing sexual issues, reported the Clinical Evaluation and Management Strategies Committee (Hatzichristou et al., 2004).

Dysfunctions and Prevalence

Statistics gathered by the Epidemiology/Risk Factors Committee revealed that 40% to 45% of adult women and 20% to 30% of adult men have at least one manifest sexual dysfunction (Lewis et al., 2004). These estimates are similar to those found in a U.S. study (Laumann et al., 1999). In a national probability sample of 1,749 women and 1,410 men ages 18 to 59, among individuals who were sexually active, the prevalence of sexual dysfunction was 43% for women and 31% for men.

Sexual dysfunction in women can include persistent or recurrent disorders of sexual interest/desire, disorders of subjective and genital arousal, orgasmic disorder, and pain and difficulty with attempted or completed intercourse. At the meeting, the International Definitions Committee recommended several modifications to the existing definitions of female sexual disorders (Basson et al., 2004b). The changes include a new definition of sexual desire/interest disorder, division of arousal disorders into subtypes, proposal of a new arousal disorder (persistent genital arousal disorder), and the addition of descriptors indicating contextual factors and degree of distress.

Rosemary Basson, M.D., vice chair of the international meeting and clinical professor in the departments of psychiatry and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of British Columbia, told PT that the revised definitions have been published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology (Basson et al., 2003) and are in press in the Journal of Menopause.

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