Sexual Dysfunction Diagnosis

(Also Known As: Sexual Disorder Diagnosis, Male Dysfunction Diagnosis, Erectile Dysfunction Diagnosis, Female Dysfunction Diagnosis)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

How is Sexual Dysfunction Diagnosed?

Sexual disorders are classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-IV) because they can disrupt interpersonal relationships with resulting psychological distress. 7

Female Sexual Dysfunction Diagnostic Procedure

When making a diagnosis of female sexual dysfunction it should encompass a detailed history of the patient to define the dysfunction and to identify the possible causative factors and any confounding medical or gynecologic condition. The clinician should also try to elicit psychosocial information. Oftentimes a pre-appointment questionnaire is used to help during the diagnosis, which is more unhindered by time constraint or the fear of the patient for the upcoming physical examination. The sexual dysfunction should be identified in terms of the sexual dysfunction’s duration, onset, situational and global effect. It is also important to ascertain the presence of other forms of sexual dysfunctions, as interdependence may occur. It is also important to diagnose other medical conditions that could possibly cause the sexual dysfunction. Self medicating drugs should also be discussed and put into consideration with any gynecologic condition in women that can promote sexual dysfunction symptoms. 8

Some clinicians use some diagnostic tools and tests for females with suspected sexual dysfunction using the following:

  • Vaginal photoplethysmography which measures the vaginal flow and engorgement.
  • Vaginal pH testing is also carried out in order to detect bacteria-causing vaginitis that can also change the hormone level in women during menopause, a condition that can reduce the lubrication of the vagina during sex, causing discomforts.
  • A biothesiometer is also used to gauge the sensitivity of the clitoris and labia to temperature and pressure.

Male Sexual Dysfunction Diagnostic Procedure

The most prevalent sexual dysfunction commonly affecting males is impotence or erectile dysfunction. The diagnosis usually begins from taking the history of the symptoms experienced. Certain tests are often required in order to rule out other medical conditions that may cause the dysfunctional symptoms. Referrals may also be given by the clinician in the involvement of other conditions that may require allied medical professionals, such as urologist, neurologist and endocrinologist. Sex therapies are also an important component in making a diagnosis of any male sexual dysfunction. Common tests used in making the evaluation and diagnosis consist of the following: 9

  • Vascular assessment
  • Blood tests
  • Sensory testing
  • Nocturnal penile tumescence and rigidity testing

The specific tests and assessments are carried out in order to obtain a more accurate history that can point out the possible factors causing sexual dysfunction. There are various possible causes of the disorder such as physical, emotional, psychological, sociocultural and anatomical dysfunctions that lead to sexual aversion and sexual dysfunction. The major goal of making a thorough assessment and diagnosis is to establish the following:

  • Identify predisposing illness
  • Uncover history of possible sexual trauma
  • Highlight possible fears, guilt, and anxiety that are specific to the sexual behavior

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