Definitions of Sexual Dysfunctions in Women and Men: A Consensus Statement From the Fourth International Consultation on Sexual Medicine 2015



      Definitions of sexual dysfunctions in women and men are critical in facilitating research and enabling clinicians to communicate accurately.


      To present the new set of definitions of all forms of sexual dysfunction in women and men adopted by the Fourth International Consultation on Sexual Medicine (ICSM) held in 2015.


      Classification systems, including the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, and systems that focus on only specific types of sexual dysfunctions (eg, the International Society for Sexual Medicine definition for premature ejaculation) were reviewed.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Evidence-based definitions were retained, gaps in definitions were identified, and outdated definitions were updated or discarded. Where evidence was insufficient or absent, expert opinion was used. Some definitions were self-evident and termed clinical principles.


      The evidence to support the various classification systems was carefully evaluated. A more comprehensive analysis of this evidence can be found in two other articles in this journal that consider the incidence and prevalence and the risk factors for sexual dysfunction in men and women. These data were used to shape the definitions for sexual dysfunction that have been recommended by the 2015 ICSM.


      The definitions that have been adopted are those that are most strongly supported by the literature at this time or are considered clinical principles or consensus of experts' opinions. As more research and clinical studies are conducted, there likely will be modifications of at least some definitions.

      Key Words

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment
      ISSM Member Login
      Login with your ISSM username and password.
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'

      Purchase one-time access:

      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Segraves R.
        • Balon R.
        • Clayton A.
        Proposal for changes in diagnostic criteria for sexual dysfunctions.
        J Sex Med. 2007; 4: 567
        • Zachar P.
        • Kendler K.S.
        Psychiatric disorders: a conceptual taxonomy.
        Am J Psychiatry. 2007; 164: 557
        • Hatzimouratidis K.
        • Hatzichristou D.
        Sexual dysfunctions: classifications and definitions.
        J Sex Med. 2007; 4: 41
        • Bancroft J.
        The endocrinology of sexual arousal.
        J Endocrinol. 2005; 186: 411
        • World Health Organization
        International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems.
        10th ed. World Health Organization, Geneva1992
        • American Psychiatric Association
        Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders.
        4th ed, text revision. American Psychiatric Press, Washington, DC2000
        • American Psychiatric Association
        Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders.
        5th ed. American Psychiatric Press, Washington, DC2013
        • Basson R.
        • Leiblum S.
        • Brotto L.
        • et al.
        Revised definitions of women’s sexual dysfunction.
        J Sex Med. 2004; 1: 40
        • Serefoglu E.C.
        • McMahon C.G.
        • Waldinger M.D.
        • et al.
        An evidence-based unified definition of lifelong and acquired premature ejaculation: report of the Second International Society for Sexual Medicine Ad Hoc Committee for the Definition of Premature Ejaculation.
        J Sex Med. 2014; 11: 1423
        • Laumann E.
        • Gagnon J.
        • Michael R.
        • et al.
        The social organization of sexuality. Sexual practices in the United States.
        University of Chicago Press, Chicago1994
        • McCabe M.P.
        • Sharlip I.D.
        • Lewis R.
        • et al.
        Incidence and prevalence of sexual dysfunction in men and women.
        J Sex Med. 2015;
        • Sharlip I.D.
        • McCabe M.P.
        • Lewis R.
        • et al.
        Risk factors for sexual dysfunction among women and men.
        J Sex Med. 2015;
        • Facelle T.M.
        • Sadeghi-Nejad H.
        • Goldmeier D.
        Persistent genital arousal disorder: characterization, etiology, and management.
        J Sex Med. 2013; 10: 439