Lacking sexual desire in women: a dysfunction worth treating?

Essay by jessi_bHigh School, 12th grade May 2006

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It was not so long ago when nymphomania was recognised as a psychiatric disorder. Today, women are more likely to earn a diagnosis for not being 'hot for it' 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Critically analyse the research evidence surrounding female sexual dysfunction and evaluate the extent to which this condition is a problem that warrants treatment.

The female libido is an elusive and misunderstood creature. Years ago cruel double standards saw women with high sexual desire labelled as fiendish nymphomaniacs but nowadays there is rapidly growing prevalence of women complaining the opposite. The problem of lacking sexual desire affects many women and definitely is a disorder worth treating. If diagnosis is correct and the causes are examined and understood, then appropriate treatment can be carried out. This sounds simple, but in practise it can be quite complex. Issues with diagnosis make incorrect diagnosis common and the deep psychological causes of some cases are not completely understood which has led to a flourish of the so-called miracle Pink Viagra.

The debate and search for treatment of desire disorders in women will continue, but only with understanding of the true causes will it be successful.

Before the 1980s, research on sexual desire was relatively non-existent. The reason being that sexual desire is difficult to define, quantify and compare. Freud was the first psychologist who tried to define what we now know as sexual desire. He called it the libido and hailed it as motor force of sexual life, this term and definition lie relatively unused today, as they are too vague (Knox 1984: 337). Sexual desire is the basic desire and appetite for sexual intimacy. There are six phases in a sexual activity: desire, arousal, excitement, orgasm, satisfaction and aftermath (McNab 1982: 23). Sexual desire is the first...