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Female Sexual Arousal Disorder (FSAD)
Fact Sheet

Once seen as mostly a psychological issue, in recent years female sexual dysfunction (FSD) has been recognized as a wide spread problem with physiological aspects that are treatable. According to reported data, up to 43 percent of women in the United States experience some form of FSD. One of the most commonly reported types of FSD is female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD).

Female Sexual Arousal Disorder (FSAD)

  • FSAD is the persistent or recurrent inability to attain or maintain the lubrication-swelling response of sexual excitement until completion of sexual activity
  • Arousal disorder is characterized by a lack of vaginal lubrication; decreased clitoral and labial sensation; decreased clitoral and labial engorgement; or decreased sexual arousal and excitement
  • When these symptoms cause significant personal distress to the women affected, a diagnosis of FSAD is made
  • FSAD occurs despite adequate focus, intensity and duration of sexual stimulation

    Prevalence of FSAD

  • FSAD is experienced by approximately 20 percent of adult women
  • Three-fourths of women with FSAD are surgically or naturally menopausal
  • Data from the National Health and Social Life Survey indicate:
        o One-third of women report a lack of sexual interest
        o Nearly one-fourth do not experience orgasm
        o Up to 20 percent report lubrication difficulties, while a similar percentage do not find sex pleasurable

    Causes of FSAD

  • Surgical procedures such as a hysterectomy may affect changes in blood flow, which can cause a lack of sensitivity and sexual arousal
  • A hysterectomy, with or without oophorectomy (removal of ovaries), may also affect how a woman feels about herself sexually
  • The decrease in estrogen levels associated with menopause may make the vagina dry and thin, even causing it to shrink
  • Certain medications such as oral contraceptives, antihypertensives and antidepressants, may impact sexual function and libido; Women taking these drugs may report a decrease in arousal, increase in vaginal dryness and increase in difficulty reaching orgasm
  • Psychological factors such as depression, stress and relationship issues may cause or contribute to FSAD
  • Other causes include certain chronic diseases like diabetes, lifestyle choices such as cigarette smoking, and surgical trauma or nerve damage to the pubic area

    Diagnosing FSAD

  • In order to diagnose FSAD a detailed patient history (sexual, medical, gynecologic and psychosocial) should be provided to a physician
  • The diagnosis of FSAD is based typically on physical examination and psychological interviews, which could help determine whether the problem is physical or psychological


  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any drug therapies for treating arousal or desire disorders
  • Estrogen replacement therapy has resulted in some improved clitoral sensitivity, increased libido and less pain during intercourse, but it is not currently approved for this indication and may not be adequate therapy for treating arousal
  • Sex therapists and psychologists may assist in improving communication between partners to help improve the actual act of sex, including foreplay, intercourse and talking about sex
  • ALISTA™ made by VIVUS, Inc., is currently in Phase 3 clinical studies for the treatment of FSAD; Women who are interested in learning more about the ALISTA clinical studies are encouraged to call 1-866-4-ALISTA (1-866-425-4782) to learn more about participating in this important research.

  • Page Created at 09-28-2004 - 04:54 AM, Last Modified 07-15-2013 - 05:04 PM
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