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Simple Self-test to Identify Women at Risk for Sexual Dysfunction

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A new, short questionnaire developed by a team in Italy may provide an easy-to-use and effective tool to help physicians better diagnose female sexual dysfunction.

Researchers over the past decade have been on a continual quest to improve ways to screen women for problems related to sexual activity. Physicians frequently don’t have time during a standard office visit to include many questions about a woman’s sexual health, although sexual concerns are common for many women.

Even worse, some physicians may ignore the topic altogether because they haven’t been adequately trained to address women’s sexual health or the doctors and their patients feel uncomfortable bringing up the subject.

Researchers at the University of Rome recently created a self-survey for women of six simple questions that can be completed and scored within three minutes. Based on the results of the written survey, a physician can rapidly determine if a woman is likely to suffer from sexual dysfunction and should receive further evaluation to establish a diagnosis.

The six questions are taken from a larger questionnaire, the Female Sexual Dysfunction Index (FSDI), that was developed for sexual dysfunction screening in 2000. The FSDI is a self-survey of 19 questions dealing with six areas of sexual dysfunction: libido, sexual arousal, orgasm, sexual satisfaction, vaginal lubrication, vaginal pain or discomfort.

The FSDI test has been validated in several clinical trials since 2000 and shown to be an accurate screening tool for doctors to help identify women at risk for hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), female orgasmic disorder (FOD), and vaginal pain during intercourse (dyspareunia and vaginismus).

The Italian researchers studied the effectiveness of each of 19 FSDI test questions and identified the top six questions that best pin pointed potential problems in the six areas of sexual dysfunction. They then compared the diagnostic success of the FSDI and the abbreviated version, named the FSDI-6, after giving both tests to 200 sexually active women averaging 35 years old.

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