Physiologic measures of sexual function in women: a review

Terri L. Woodard, Michael P. Diamond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Objective: To review and describe physiologic measures of assessing sexual function in women. Design: Literature review. Setting: Studies that use instruments designed to measure female sexual function. Patient(s): Women participating in studies of female sexual function. Intervention(s): Various instruments that measure physiologic features of female sexual function. Main Outcome Measure(s): Appraisal of the various instruments, including their advantages and disadvantages. Result(s): Many unique physiologic methods of evaluating female sexual function have been developed during the past four decades. Each method has its benefits and limitations. Conclusion(s): Many physiologic methods exist, but most are not well-validated. In addition there has been an inability to correlate most physiologic measures with subjective measures of sexual arousal. Furthermore, given the complex nature of the sexual response in women, physiologic measures should be considered in context of other data, including the history, physical examination, and validated questionnaires. Nonetheless, the existence of appropriate physiologic measures is vital to our understanding of female sexual function and dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-34
Number of pages16
JournalFertility and sterility
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Psychophysiologic testing
  • female sexual dysfunction
  • female sexual function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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