Female Sexual Dysfunction

Course #93031 - $25 • 5 Hours/Credits


Self-Assessment Questions

    1 . Which of the following is a diagnostic entity for female sexual dysfunction in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)?
    A) Low sexual desire
    B) Deep dyspareunia
    C) Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD)
    D) Female sexual interest/arousal disorder (FSIAD)

    DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA AND TOOLS

    The multifactorial model and additional research suggest that female sexual response is not uniformly linear, the distinction between desire and arousal phases is likely artificial, and desire and arousal are difficult to separate because normal desire can include a responsive component. These findings shaped the revision of female sexual dysfunction by the American Psychiatric Association in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) [4,15]. Low sexual desire, termed hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in the DSM-IV-TR, was merged with female sexual arousal disorder to form the diagnostic entity of female sexual interest/arousal disorder (FSIAD) in the DSM-5 [17,18].

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    2 . If FSIAD occurs in all sexual situations, it is considered
    A) primary.
    B) secondary.
    C) situational.
    D) generalized.

    DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA AND TOOLS

    Furthermore, FSIAD may be described as primary, if the woman has never experienced sufficient arousal (even with sufficient desire and sexual stimulation), or secondary, if the woman has been sufficiently aroused in the past but currently experiences decreased arousal [4]. If the problem occurs in all sexual situations, it is generalized; if the problem occurs only in some sexual situations, it is considered situational.

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    3 . Genitopelvic pain or penetration disorder is characterized by persistent or recurrent difficulties with any one of the following, EXCEPT:
    A) Inability to achieve orgasm
    B) Marked vulvovaginal or pelvic pain during intercourse or penetration attempts
    C) Marked tensing or tightening of pelvic floor muscles during attempted vaginal penetration
    D) Marked fear or anxiety about vulvovaginal or pelvic pain in anticipation of, during, or because of vaginal penetration

    DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA AND TOOLS

    Genitopelvic pain or penetration disorder is characterized by persistent or recurrent difficulties with one or more of the following [4]:

    • Vaginal penetration during intercourse


    • Marked vulvovaginal or pelvic pain during intercourse or penetration attempts


    • Marked fear or anxiety about vulvovaginal or pelvic pain in anticipation of, during, or because of vaginal penetration


    • Marked tensing or tightening of pelvic floor muscles during attempted vaginal penetration

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    4 . Genitourinary syndrome of menopause is defined as
    A) pain associated with deep penetration.
    B) age-related changes to the vagina (and no other structures).
    C) the involuntary contraction of pelvic musculature surrounding the outer third of the vagina.
    D) a constellation of symptoms and signs associated with age-related decreases in estrogen and other sex steroids.

    DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA AND TOOLS

    Genitourinary syndrome of menopause is the term now used in place of vaginal atrophy and vulvovaginal atrophy. Introduced in 2014 by the International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health and the North American Menopause Society, genitourinary syndrome of menopause is a medically more accurate, all-encompassing, and publicly acceptable term than its predecessor. It is defined as a constellation of symptoms and signs associated with age-related decreases in estrogen and other sex steroids, including changes to the labia majora/minora, clitoris, vestibule/introitus, vagina, urethra, and bladder. Symptoms of genitourinary syndrome of menopause must be bothersome and not be better explained by another diagnosis and include genital dryness, burning, and irritation; sexual symptoms of lack of lubrication, discomfort or pain, and impaired function; and urinary symptoms of urgency, dysuria, and recurrent urinary tract infections. Women may present with some or all of these signs and symptoms [24]. In a survey of 3,046 women with genitourinary syndrome of menopause, 85% of partnered women reported some loss of intimacy, 59% reported diminished enjoyment of sex, and 47% reported interference with their relationship [25]. In addition, 29% reported sleep disruption and 27% described a negative effect on their general quality of life. Only 7% stated their provider initiated a discussion about genitourinary syndrome of menopause.

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    5 . What is the criterion standard instrument in assessing female sexual dysfunction and treatment response?
    A) The Brief Sexual Symptom Checklist
    B) The Female Sexual Distress Scale (FSDS)
    C) The Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI)
    D) The Decreased Sexual Desire Screener (DSDS)

    DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA AND TOOLS

    The Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) is the criterion standard instrument in assessing female sexual dysfunction and treatment response in clinical trials and can also be used in clinical practice. The FSFI consists of 19 questions with a severity scale, rated by the patient or subject. Sexual function is assessed across six domains: desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain. The total FSFI score is the sum of all six domain scores. Higher scores indicate better sexual function, with a highest possible total score of 36. Scores of 26.55 or less are considered female sexual dysfunction in premenopausal and postmenopausal women [26,27].

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    6 . The lifetime prevalence of any female sexual dysfunction is
    A) 4%.
    B) 24%.
    C) 40%.
    D) 74%.

    EPIDEMIOLOGY

    The lifetime prevalence of any female sexual dysfunction is 40% [1,2]. In one study, roughly 40% to 45% of adult women had at least one manifest sexual dysfunction (somewhat often, often, nearly always, or always), although distress over the dysfunction was not measured [29]. At any time, around 10% of women experience low or absent sexual desire, making it the most common female sexual dysfunction, followed by orgasmic impairment [4].

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    7 . All of the following diseases/conditions may contribute to female sexual dysfunction, EXCEPT:
    A) Hypertension
    B) Hyperpituitarism
    C) Parkinson disease
    D) Inflammatory bowel disease

    ETIOLOGY AND RISK FACTORS

    DISEASES OR CONDITIONS THAT MAY CONTRIBUTE TO FEMALE SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION

    CategoryConditions
    CardiovascularHypertension, coronary artery disease
    EndocrineDiabetes, thyroid disorders, hyperprolactinemia, adrenal disorders, hypopituitarism
    GastroenterologicHepatic dysfunction, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome
    Autoimmune/arthriticSystemic lupus erythematosus, arthritis
    InfectionSystemic infections, sexually transmitted infections (hepatitis B/C, syphilis)
    MalignancyBreast cancer and treatment (negatively impacting body image and/or disrupting endocrine pathways), colon cancer
    NeurologicEpilepsy, multiple sclerosis, stroke and trauma, degenerative diseases, Parkinson disease, dementias, hypothalamic disorders, fibromyalgia
    VascularPeripheral vascular disease, coronary artery disease
    Diseases or conditions involving the genitals or proximal organ systems
    Dermatologic (vaginal region)Dermatitis, herpes simplex, psoriasis, lichen sclerosis, carcinoma
    MusculoskeletalMechanical low back pain, spinal stenosis, hip fracture, pelvic floor muscle spasm
    NeurologicNerve entrapment syndromes, chronic pain disorders
    UrologicRecurrent bacterial cystitis, interstitial cystitis, bladder cancer, renal dysfunction
    GynecologicVaginitis, vestibulodynia (e.g., vaginismus, vestibulitis), vulvodynia, pelvic floor dysfunction, endometriosis, premature ovarian failure, menopausal atrophy, ovarian masses, uterine fibroids, prolapse, gynecologic malignancies
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    8 . Chronic alcohol use may lead to all of the following, EXCEPT:
    A) Inhibition
    B) Anorgasmia
    C) Loss of desire
    D) Decreased arousal

    ETIOLOGY AND RISK FACTORS

    Alcohol acts acutely to disinhibit behavior and may increase sexual receptivity or initiation [19]. However, chronic alcohol use may lead to loss of desire, decreased arousal, and anorgasmia. Inhibition of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function decreases estradiol levels, which may interfere with vaginal lubrication [19].

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    9 . Which of the following classes of antidepressants is associated with the highest rates of sexual dysfunction?
    A) Atypical antidepressants
    B) Tricyclic antidepressants
    C) Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
    D) Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

    ETIOLOGY AND RISK FACTORS

    Among the prescribed drugs with known potential to impair sexual functioning, antidepressants are perhaps the most widely prescribed [46]. Among antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonergic/noradrenergic reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) show the highest rates of sexual dysfunction, including impaired sexual motivation, desire, arousal, and orgasm affecting men and women.

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    10 . The greatest prevalence of low desire/arousal and distress occurs in women
    A) 18 to 24 years of age.
    B) 35 to 44 years of age.
    C) 45 to 64 years of age.
    D) older than 85 years of age.

    ETIOLOGY AND RISK FACTORS

    Aging can affect all aspects of female sexual function, and the greatest prevalence of low desire/arousal and distress occurs in women 45 to 64 years of age. Intensity of sexual desire may decline due to neuroendocrine changes, such as declining testosterone, changes in neurochemistry, and indirect changes from loss of estrogen. Genital sensation may change, with arousal and orgasm requiring stronger and longer stimulation. Low estrogen levels can lead to vulvovaginal atrophy and dyspareunia associated with decreased desire. These factors, and the unique psychosocial factors present during this life phase, influence sexual function during the menopausal transition [8,49,50]. The Nurses' Health Study II included 68,131 women 48 to 68 years of age. Sexual activity and dysfunction symptoms were assessed using the FSFI index. Of the participants, 73% were sexually active; 50% of these women reported symptoms of sexual dysfunction. Symptoms were less common among unpartnered (42%) than partnered women (51%). A positive association between menopause and sexual dysfunction was greater among unpartnered than partnered women [51].

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    11 . Which of the following is an individual vulnerability factor that increases the risk for sexual dysfunction in women?
    A) Low body weight
    B) History of sexual or emotional abuse
    C) Well-controlled or previous depression
    D) Higher level of education and sex education during childhood and/or adolescence

    ETIOLOGY AND RISK FACTORS

    Individual vulnerability factors that increase the risk for sexual dysfunction in women include a history of sexual or emotional abuse, current psychiatric conditions (e.g., depression), and life stressors (e.g., job loss).

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    12 . All of the following may precipitate vaginismus, EXCEPT:
    A) Childbirth
    B) Sexual assault
    C) Retroverted uterus
    D) Painful pelvic examination

    ETIOLOGY AND RISK FACTORS

    Vaginismus may be precipitated by painful intercourse, painful pelvic examination, sexual assault, pelvic inflammatory disease, gynecologic surgery, urogenital atrophy, vulvar dermatologic conditions, or childbirth. Generalized anxiety levels are usually elevated in patients with vaginismus, suggesting that vaginismus and anxiety disorders share common predisposing factors [83]. Maintaining factors should be considered, and continuation of intercourse despite pain can promote anticipatory muscle spasm [19].

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    13 . Second-degree vaginismus is diagnosed with the finding of
    A) perineal spasm maintained throughout pelvic examination.
    B) levator spasm and elevation of buttocks throughout pelvic examination.
    C) perineal and levator spasm relieved with reassurance during pelvic examination.
    D) levator and perineal spasm, elevation of buttocks, adduction, and retreat on pelvic examination.

    ASSESSMENT AND DIAGNOSTIC WORKUP

    Vaginismus is difficult to delineate from provoked vestibulodynia, and they often co-occur. Pelvic examination may be very difficult but, if tolerated, enables vaginismus diagnosis as follows [19,83,89]:

    • First degree: Perineal and levator spasm relieved with reassurance

    • Second degree: Perineal spasm maintained throughout pelvic examination

    • Third degree: Levator spasm and elevation of buttocks

    • Fourth degree: Levator and perineal spasm, elevation of buttocks, adduction, and retreat

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    14 . Psychotherapy should be initiated before medication in patients with sexual dysfunction and all of the following, EXCEPT:
    A) Severe depression
    B) Substance abuse disorders
    C) A clear medical precipitant
    D) Abusive/chaotic relationships

    TREATMENT

    Psychotherapy should be initiated before medication in patients with severe depression, substance abuse disorders, or in abusive/chaotic relationships, as medication has little benefit in these contexts. Medical therapy alone is appropriate in couples in which the sexual dysfunction has a clear medical precipitant, couples in a high-quality relationship, or patients with few psychologic concerns [11].

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    15 . First-line therapy for mild-to-moderate genitourinary syndrome of menopause includes
    A) bremelanotide.
    B) antidepressants.
    C) vaginal testosterone.
    D) long-acting vaginal moisturizers.

    TREATMENT

    First-line therapy for mild-to-moderate genitourinary syndrome of menopause and dyspareunia involves nonhormonal vaginal lubricants used with intercourse/vaginal sexual activity, long-acting vaginal moisturizers, and regular sexual activity [84]. If improvement is not noted with these approaches, hormone or other pharmacotherapy may be initiated.

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    16 . Management of provoked vestibulodynia should include
    A) perineal massage.
    B) corticosteroid creams.
    C) digital or electric vibration.
    D) lidocaine or xylocaine 2% gel or 5% ointment applied to the vestibule 15 to 30 minutes before sexual activity.

    TREATMENT

    Management of provoked vestibulodynia includes lidocaine or xylocaine 2% gel or 5% ointment applied to the vestibule 15 to 30 minutes before sexual activity to reduce intercourse-provoked pain. In one trial, lidocaine 5% ointment applied on the vestibule at bedtime for seven weeks resulted in ≥50% pain reduction [128]. Corticosteroid creams are frequently prescribed but are rarely effective [19].

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    17 . Which of the following is a mainstay of vaginismus treatment?
    A) Sildenafil
    B) Vestibulectomy
    C) Vaginal exercises
    D) Pudendal nerve excision/ablation

    TREATMENT

    Exercises for systematic desensitization to vaginal penetration are the mainstay of vaginismus treatment, with the goal of control over and relaxation of levator ani muscles. Therapy starts with reverse Kegel exercises, progresses to gentle stretching of the vagina using lubricated vaginal dilators of graduated sizes to help restore and maintain vaginal function, followed by introduction a partner's fingers, with intercourse the final step [19].

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    18 . Which of the following medications is approved for the treatment of female sexual dysfunction, specifically HSDD?
    A) Bupropion
    B) Flibanserin
    C) Apomorphine
    D) Topical alprostadil cream

    TREATMENT

    As noted, in 2015 flibanserin became the first medication approved for the treatment of female sexual dysfunction (specifically HSDD) and the first medication approved to treat sexual desire disorders in either sex [104]. This medication is a mixed 5-HT1A agonist/5-HT2A antagonist—the first in its class. Its mechanism of action is presumed to be primarily the result of postsynaptic action on 5-HT1A receptors, but the actual action is not clear [133].

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    19 . Which of the following statements regarding the Endocrine Society's guideline for testosterone therapy in FSIAD is TRUE?
    A) Testosterone levels should be measured at baseline and then after six months.
    B) Testosterone therapy should be halted in patients lacking response by six weeks.
    C) Lower than normal premenopausal testosterone values should be used as the reference standard to avoid testosterone over-administration.
    D) The guideline recommends initiating a three- to six-month trial dose in postmenopausal women requesting testosterone therapy for verified FSIAD, when not contraindicated.

    TREATMENT

    A guideline for testosterone therapy in FSIAD was jointly updated in 2014 by the Endocrine Society and other professional organizations [21]. The guideline recommends initiating a three- to six-month trial in postmenopausal women requesting testosterone therapy for verified FSIAD (when not contraindicated). Mid-normal premenopausal testosterone values should be used as the reference standard to avoid testosterone over-administration. Testosterone levels should be measured at baseline, monitored at three- to six-week and six-month follow-up, and then every six months for signs of excessive use and androgen excess. Therapy should be halted in patients lacking response by six months.

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    20 . Which of the following statements regarding the use of herbal, complementary, and nutritional supplement therapy for women with sexual dysfunction is TRUE?
    A) Ginkgo biloba extract has been found to significantly improve libido and desire.
    B) Herbal remedies are unpopular and generally rare for patients with sexual dysfunction.
    C) While some herbal or supplement preparations seem effective, no safety data are available with long-term use.
    D) All of the above

    TREATMENT

    Plant-derived and herbal remedies are a popular alternative to medical treatments for patients with sexual dysfunction. While some preparations seem effective, no safety data are available with long-term use.

    Ginkgo biloba extract efficacy in female sexual dysfunction was evaluated in a study with highly rigorous design, which found gingko biloba extract offered no benefit beyond placebo [144]. A study published in 2014 examined the effect of ginkgo biloba extract on sexual desire in 80 postmenopausal women [145]. Half of the healthy female volunteers received ginkgo biloba extract (120–240 mg) and the other half received placebo for 30 days. Sexual desire was significantly improved in the ginkgo biloba extract group compared with the placebo group.

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