Understanding Female Sexual Dysfunction


  • Laurie Betito, PhD




Sexuality is an integral part of our human existence. It is more than a source of pleasure—it is a source of fulfillment, emotional connection, intimacy and empowerment. Unfortunately, for many women worldwide, a satisfying and fulfilling sex life is thwarted by sexual dysfunction. Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) is an all too common and often very distressing condition that encompasses a wide range of difficulties, and affects women of all ages and backgrounds. This condition is characterized by a persistent or recurrent inability to achieve sexual satisfaction, causing the woman distress. This is a complex issue as the causes can be quite varied and sometimes elusive. The contributing factors we evaluate include physical (hormones, chronic illnesses, medication side effects), psychological (anxiety, depression, stress, relationship issues) and social (cultural or religious beliefs). Women who experience FSD are often distressed, experiencing relationship strain as a result, and their overall quality of life is impacted. This is a topic that is still shrouded in shame and stigma, leaving many women unable to discuss or uncomfortable discussing their difficulties even with healthcare professionals. We need to empower women with knowledge, encourage them to discuss their sexuality, and provide help and support. As health professionals, we need to play our part in the destigmatization and normalization of sexual wellness.

Author Biography

Laurie Betito, PhD

Dr. Laurie Betito is a clinical psychologist with a specialty in sexual wellness and has been a practicing psychotherapist for over 35 years. For the last three decades she has been doing radio and television, dispensing sex and relationship advice. For 22 years she was the host of the nightly Canadian syndicated show Passion. She is a regular contributor to various magazines, newspapers and television shows. Dr. Laurie is also President of the Sexual Health Network of Quebec and Past President of the Canadian Sex Research Forum. She is the author of The Sex Bible for People Over 50 and the Director of the Pornhub Sexual Wellness Center, an online sexual health information platform. Dr. Laurie has also done two TEDx talks on the subject of sexuality. Her weekly podcast “Passion with Dr. Laurie and Jon Pole” is available on all platforms.


Clayton AH, McGarvey EL, Clavet GJ. The Changes in Sexual Functioning Questionnaire (CSFQ): development, reliability, and validity. Psychopharmacol Bull. 1997;33:731-45.

Rosen C, Brown J, Heiman S, et al. The Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI): A multidimensional self-report instrument for the assessment of female sexual function. J Sex Marital Ther. 2000;26:191-208.

David L. Rowland, Brittany R. Gutierrez. Amy Wenzel, eds. The SAGE Encyclopedia of Abnormal and Clinical Psychology. Chapter Title: Phases of Human Sexual Response. SAGE Publications: 2017.

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing: (2013).

Hendrickx L, Gijs L, Enzlin P. Distress, sexual dysfunctions, and DSM: dialogue at cross purposes? J Sex Med. 2013 Mar;10(3):630-41.

Razali NA, Sidi H, Choy CL, et al. The role of bupropion in the treatment of women with sexual desire disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2022 Aug 31; 20(10):1941-55.

Andrew T. Goldstein, Caroline F. Pukall, Irwin Goldstein, eds. Female Sexual Pain Disorders: Evaluation and Management, 2nd Edition. ISBN: 978-1-119-48266-6 November. Wiley-Blackwell: 2020.

Vegunta S, Kling JM, Kapoor E. Androgen Therapy in Women [published correction appears in J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2020 Nov;29(11):1487]. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2020;29(1):57-64. doi:10.1089/jwh.2018.7494

Rosato E, Sciarra F, Minnetti M, Degjoni A, Venneri MA. Clinical management of androgen excess and defect in women. Expert Rev Endocrinol Metab. 2024;19(1):21-35. doi:10.1080/17446651.2023.2279537

Sheryl Kingsberg, PhDSusan Kellogg Spadt, CRNP, PhD. Female Sexual Pain: Evaluation. www.update.com/contents/female-sexual-pain-evaluation

Lev-Sagie, A, Gilad R, Prus, D. The vulvar vestibule, a small tissue with a central position: anatomy, embryology, pain mechanisms, and hormonal associations. Curr Sex Health Rep. 2019;11:60-66.

Shannon L. Wallacea , Lucia D. Millerb, Kavita Mishraa Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy in the Treatment of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction in Women. Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.: 2019.




How to Cite

Betito, L. (2024). Understanding Female Sexual Dysfunction. Canadian Women’s Health Today, 1(1), 31–34. https://doi.org/10.58931/cwht.2024.119