Diagnostic Criteria PsychNetBack.gif (1523 bytes)

Refer to conditions of use

Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder

Is described as a deficiency or absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity. This is considered a disorder if it causes distress for the patient or problems in the patient's relationships. It must be determined that this is not the result of another psychological disorder which is the primary problem. If the sexual partner of a patient with suspected hypoactive sexual desire disorder feels that this is a problem within the relationship, that concern should be sufficient for the individual to seek psychological consultation.

Desire for and fantasy about sexual activity are chronically or recurrently deficient or absent. The
     clinician judges this on the basis of the patient's age and other life circumstances that may affect
     sexual functioning.

This behavior causes marked distress or interpersonal problems.

Except for another Sexual Dysfunction, no other Axis I disorder explains it better.

It is not directly caused by substance use (medication or drug of abuse) or by a general medical

Type Codes for the Sexual Dysfunctions

* Specify 1 of:
Due to Psychological Factors or
Due to Combined Psychological Factors and a General Medical Condition

* Specify 1 of:
Lifelong (it occurs throughout the patient's active sexual life) or
Acquired (there has been a time when the patient did not have this sexual dysfunction)

* Specify 1 of:
Generalized (the disorder occurs with all partners and in all situations) or

Associated Features:

Physical illnesses  when they produce fatigue, pain
Hormone deficiencies may occasionally be implicated.
Insomnia or inadequate amounts of sleep, resulting in fatigue.
Pain with intercourse, for women
Erection problems
Retarded Ejaculation,


Differential Diagnosis 

Some disorders have similar or even the same symptoms. The clinician, therefore, in his/her diagnostic attempt has to differentiate against the following disorders which need to be ruled out to establish a precise diagnosis.



This disorder can be present in adolescents and can persist throughout a person's life. Many times, however, the lowered sexual desire occurs during adulthood, often times following a period of stress. Interestingly, patients with a general dislike of sexual activity (hypoactive desire or aversion), at least with their current partner, can effectively use an injury to justify avoidance of sexual contact.


Treatment of HSDD will depend in some part on the duration of the problem and its causes. If it is the result of attitudes and experiences of a long-standing nature, changing how patients think and feel about the problem and their sexuality is critical.

Counseling and Psychotherapy [ See Therapy Section ]:

Sex therapy may not be the best referral in some circumstances such as the patient with HSDD who tells you that she and her partner frequently have angry disagreements is not a good candidate for sex therapy until the arguing is resolved in marital or couples counseling. Some couples just aren’t sexually attracted to each other, leading to HSDD in one or both. They find it difficult to tell each other about the lack of attraction. In all of these cases, referral to a psychotherapist for couples counseling is the treatment of choice. Treatment must be individualized to the factors that may be inhibiting sexual interest. Often, there may be several such factors. Some couples will need relationship enhancement work or marital therapy prior to focusing directly on enhancing sexual activity. Declining sex is sometimes one of the few areas where someone who feels dominated in most other areas of a marriage may still exert control. Some couples will need to be taught skills in conflict resolution and be helped to work through differences in nonsexual areas. Communication training in talking on a feeling level, showing empathic understanding, resolving differences in a manner that reflects sensitivity and respect for the feelings of both parties, learning how to express anger constructively, and reserving time for couple activities, affection and talking all tend to encourage sexual desire. Many couples will also need direct focus on the sexual relationship wherein through education and couple assignments they expand the variety and time devoted to sexual activity. Some couples will also need to focus on how they may sexually approach their partner in more interesting and desirable ways, and in how to more gently and tactfully decline a sexual invitation. When problems with sexual arousal or performance are factors in decreasing libido, these sexual dysfunctions will need to be directly addressed.

Pharmacotherapy [ See Psychopharmacology Section ] :

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Coding Notes

Although I have picked Female Sexual Arousal Disorder as the example, the following notes apply to many of the Sexual Disorders discussed below:

A patient who has a general medical condition (diabetes mellitus) that partly, but not completely, accounts for a problem with arousal would be diagnosed:

     Axis I 302.72 Female Sexual Arousal Disorder, Due to Combined Factors
     Axis III 250.01 Insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus

A patient who uses drugs and who has arousal problems due partly, but not solely, to the direct effects of drug use, would be diagnosed (other specifiers would also apply):

     Axis I 302.72 Female Sexual Arousal Disorder, Due to Combined Factors

Patients whose arousal problems are due solely to a combination of substance use (such as heroin intoxication) and a general medical condition (such as diabetes mellitus) should be given two Axis I diagnoses:

     625.8 Other Female Sexual Dysfunction Due to Diabetes Mellitus
     292.89 Heroin-Induced Sexual Dysfunction, With Impaired Arousal, With Onset During

Of course, you would have to supply the appropriate Axis I and Axis III codes for each of the above examples.

See Also Our Sexual Dysfunction Links Page.