OBJECTIVE: To estimate the prevalence of self-reported sexual problems (any, desire, arousal, and orgasm), the prevalence of problems accompanied by personal distress, and to describe related correlates.
METHODS: The 31,581 female respondents aged 18 years and older were from 50,002 households sampled from a national research panel representative of U.S. women. Correlates of each distressing sexual problem were evaluated using multiple logistic regression techniques.
RESULTS: The age-adjusted point prevalence of any sexual problem was 43.1% and 22.2% for sexually related personal distress (defined as a score of at least 15 on Female Sexual Distress Scale). Any distressing sexual problem (defined as reporting both a sexual problem and sexually related personal distress, Female Sexual Distress Scale score of at least 15) occurred in 12.0% of respondents and was more common in women aged 45–64 years (14.8%) than in younger (10.8%) or older (8.9%) women. Correlates of distressing sexual problems included poor self-assessed health, low education level, depression, anxiety, thyroid conditions, and urinary incontinence.
CONCLUSION: The prevalence of distressing sexual problems peaked in middle-aged women and was considerably lower than the prevalence of sexual problems. This underlines the importance of assessing the prevalence of sexually related personal distress in accurately estimating the prevalence of sexual problems that may require clinical intervention.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: III