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Original Investigation
July 14, 2008

Prevalence of Low Sexual Desire and Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder in a Nationally Representative Sample of US Women

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Epidemiology (Drs West and D’Aloisio) and Obstetrics and Gynecology (Dr Thorp) and Survey Research Unit, Department of Biostatistics (Drs Agans and Kalsbeek), School of Public Health, and Center for Women's Health Research (Drs West and Thorp), The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and Division of Epidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals, Mason, Ohio (Dr Borisov). Dr West is now with RTI International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(13):1441-1449. doi:10.1001/archinte.168.13.1441

Background  We sought to estimate the prevalence of low sexual desire and hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in US women, focusing on their menopausal status.

Methods  We performed a cross-sectional study. From a probability sample of households, 2207 US women aged 30 to 70 years and in stable relationships (≥3 months) were interviewed by telephone. The analysis focused on 755 premenopausal women and 552 naturally and 637 surgically menopausal women. Low sexual desire was defined using the Profile of Female Sexual Function desire domain, and HSDD was defined using the Profile of Female Sexual Function and the Personal Distress Scale.

Results  Prevalence of low sexual desire ranged from 26.7% among premenopausal women to 52.4% among naturally menopausal women. The prevalence of HSDD was highest among surgically menopausal women (12.5%). Compared with premenopausal women and adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, educational level, and smoking status, the prevalence ratios for HSDD were 2.3 (95% confidence interval, 1.2-4.5) for surgically menopausal women and 1.2 (0.5-2.8) for naturally menopausal women; the prevalence ratios for low sexual desire were 1.3 (0.9-1.9) and 1.5 (1.0-2.2) for surgically and naturally menopausal women, respectively.

Conclusions  Prevalence of low sexual desire is elevated among surgically and naturally menopausal women vs premenopausal women. Distress about low desire (HSDD) appears to be more than twice as prevalent among surgically menopausal women vs premenopausal women, although the estimate is fairly imprecise.