Subtypes of Sexual Arousal Disorder Identified

Article excerpt

SANTA FE, N.M. -- The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines only one type of female sexual arousal disorder, but there is now physiologic evidence that there are at least two subtypes of the disorder, Lori A. Brotto, Ph.D., reported at the annual meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research.

For a diagnosis of female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD), DSM-IV-TR requires "persistent or recurrent inability to attain ... an adequate lubrication-swelling response of sexual excitement."

Although some women who have FSAD do complain chiefly of genital impairment, other women report that although their bodies become aroused, they do not become aroused psychologically.

In a study involving 70 women, Dr. Brotto of the University of Washington in Seattle examined 8 women reporting the genital subtype of FSAD, 26 reporting the subjective subtype, and 36 control subjects reporting no difficulties in becoming aroused.

All women watched neutral and erotic films while their vaginal pulse amplitude--a reliable measure of genital arousal--was measured by a vaginal photoplethysmograph.

The women in the study provided a continuous measure of their subjective responses by changing the position of a lever.

The women underwent testing on two occasions, once after laboratory-induced hyperventilation. In previous studies, Dr. Brotto determined that in normal women, hyperventilation--which activates the sympathetic nervous system--increased the change in vaginal pulse amplitude between neutral and erotic films.

In both the control women and in those women with FSAD, the erotic film resulted in significant increases in vaginal pulse amplitude.

All women responded to the erotic film with perceived autonomic arousal and perceived physical arousal, but women with FSAD reported less arousal. …