Arousal disorders in women: complaints and complexities

Sandra R Leiblum
Med J Aust 2003; 178 (12): 638-640.


  • Female sexual arousal disorders constitute a varied spectrum of difficulties, ranging from the total absence of genital or subjective pleasurable arousal to feelings of persistent genital arousal in the absence of sexual desire.

  • Arousal disorders can be associated with physical factors (eg, vaginal dryness) or psychological factors (eg, anxiety, distraction), or a combination of both. The most common complaint is the absence of subjective sexual excitement or pleasure despite adequate physical arousal (eg, lubrication).

  • Pharmacological and physical treatments include the use of oestrogen, lubricants and vibrators. There may be a place for drugs that increase vasocongestion and vasodilation.

  • Psychological therapy addresses inhibitions, and interpersonal and motivational factors.

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  • Sandra R Leiblum

  • UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ, USA.


Competing interests:

The author is a consultant to and holds stock in Pfizer.

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