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Hypoactive sexual desire disorder in postmenopausal women: US results from the Women's International Study of Health and Sexuality (WISHeS)

Leiblum, Sandra R PhD1; Koochaki, Patricia E PhD2; Rodenberg, Cynthia A PhD2; Barton, Ian P BSc2; Rosen, Raymond C PhD1

doi: 10.1097/01.gme.0000172596.76272.06

Objective: To determine the prevalence of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) among US women by reproductive status and age and to explore the correlates of sexually related distress.

Design: The Women's International Study on Health and Sexuality questionnaire was mailed to a national sample of US women in 2000. The survey included validated questionnaires: the Short Form-36, which measures overall health status; the Profile of Female Sexual Function, which assesses sexual desire; and the Personal Distress Scale, which measures distress caused by low desire. Four groups of women were studied: surgically postmenopausal, aged 20 to 49 years and 50 to 70 years; premenopausal, aged 20 to 49 years; and naturally postmenopausal, aged 50 to 70 years. Clinically derived cutoff Profile of Female Sexual Function and Personal Distress Scale scores were used to classify women with HSDD and determine its prevalence. The relations between sexual desire and frequency of sexual activity or relationship satisfaction were assessed. Overall health status of HSDD women and women with normal desire were compared.

Results: The prevalence of HSDD ranged from 9% in naturally postmenopausal women to 26% in younger surgically postmenopausal women. The prevalence of HSDD was significantly greater among surgically postmenopausal women, aged 20 to 49 years, than premenopausal women of similar age, whereas there were no significant differences in the prevalence between surgically postmenopausal women, aged 50 to 70 years, and naturally postmenopausal women. For many women, HSDD was associated with emotional and psychological distress as well as significantly lower sexual and partner satisfaction. HSDD was also associated with significant decrements in general health status, including aspects of mental and physical health.

Conclusions: HSDD is prevalent among women at all reproductive stages, with younger surgically postmenopausal women at greater risk, and is associated with a less active sex life and decreased sexual and relationship satisfaction.

The prevalences of low sexual desire, distress among women with low desire, and hypoactive sexual desire disorder among women by age and reproductive status are reported. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder in women is associated with emotional and psychological distress, decreased sexual and relationship satisfaction, and reduced sexual frequency and satisfaction.

From the 1University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ, and 2Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Mason, OH.

Received March 12, 2005; revised and accepted May 16, 2005.

Funding for conducting the Women's International Study of Health and Sexuality survey was provided by Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals.

Address correspondence to: Sandra R. Leiblum, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 675 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854. E-mail:

©2006The North American Menopause Society