Comparing sexual disorders: FSAD versus HSDD in women

In the realm of sexual health, understanding the distinction between different kinds of sexual disorders, such as Female Sexual Arousal Disorder (FSAD), is crucial. 

This is particularly true when addressing women’s sexual health. Two disorders that frequently arise are FSAD and Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD). 

This article delves into these disorders, comparing and contrasting them to enable a more nuanced understanding of sexual health issues that many women face. Learn more!

Understanding FSAD and HSDD

To begin, it is crucial to comprehend what constitutes these two disorders.

FSAD (Female Sexual Arousal Disorder) 

Refers to an inability to attain or maintain sexual arousal until the completion of sexual activity. Symptoms often include insubstantial lubrication-swelling responses, which indicate reduced blood flow to the genitals and trouble achieving orgasm. 

Along with the physical symptoms, this disorder may have psychological implications, such as decreased desire for sexual activity and distress regarding the condition.

HSDD (Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder)

It is characterized by a persistent or recurrent lack of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity. This absence of desire often leads to significant personal distress or interpersonal difficulties. 

Various treatments have been studied, tried, and explored to manage this condition, including using female Viagra tablets. Unlike FSAD, HSDD predominantly manifests through the absence or lack of sexual interest, with fewer physical complications.

Comparing FSAD and HSDD

While there are domains where these two disorders overlap, chiefly, they have distinctive features worth examining.

Presence versus absence of desire

The defining difference between HSDD and FSAD is the presence or absence of sexual desire. HSDD primarily occurs through a reduced sexual desire. Women with HSDD might not frequently initiate sexual contact, reflecting low receptivity to their partner’s attempts. 

However, women with FSAD do not lack sexual desire. They might maintain an active interest in sex but struggle to achieve or maintain arousal during sexual activity.

Physiological versus psychological factors 

FSAD-related problems are physiological, including difficulties like insufficient vaginal lubrication or lack of an orgasm, which frequently lead to secondary psychological issues like stress or performance anxiety. 

In contrast, HSDD is more inclined towards psychological aspects, as it primarily manifests through a lack of sexual fantasies and a significant disinterest in sexual activity.


FSAD and HSDD severely impact a woman’s quality of life. FSAD may cause physical discomfort, contributing to avoiding sexual activity, while HSDD can result in dissatisfaction, frustration, or an increased strain on relationships due to diminished desire.

Therapeutic approaches for FSAD and HSDD

The treatment strategies for FSAD and HSDD are different due to the dissimilar nature of these disorders.

  • FSAD treatments: Since FSAD pertains to physical or physiological elements, medical treatments prove more beneficial. This often involves addressing any vascular issues causing insufficient blood flow to the genitals. Hormone therapy may be suggested, and topical lubricants can alleviate symptoms.
  • HSDD treatments: The treatment for HSDD, in contrast, focuses more on improving sexual desire and often involves psychological interventions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be beneficial to discuss the issues thoroughly and resolve any interpersonal problems. Occasionally, hormone treatments can be considered to modify libido levels.

Prevalence and impact

Understanding the prevalence and impact of these disorders further emphasizes the importance of recognizing and addressing them effectively.

  • It is now acknowledged that both disorders are more common than generally thought, with millions of women worldwide affected by FSAD and HSDD.
  • The significant impact these disorders can have on a woman’s quality of life is not to be underestimated. They might result in distress, frustration, and reduced self-esteem and contribute to relationship conflicts.

A closer look at FSAD

FSAD, in particular, often gets placed under the umbrella of “sexual dysfunction” and is overlooked on its own. Due to its physiological symptoms, women with FSAD might struggle more to find treatment, as they have to determine the underlying health issues that could be causing this insufficient arousal.

There are two primary types of FSAD—subjective and combined. Subjective FSAD refers to cases where physical responses exist, but the woman does not feel aroused, while combined FSAD indicates a lack of psychological and physical arousal.

A closer look at HSDD

HSDD, while less about specific physiological responses, still holds profound ramifications for affected women. Those with HSDD report persistent low desire for sexual activity, into which societal norms and psychological health intricately weave. HSDD is regularly associated with depression and anxiety.

Additionally, HSDD is marked by an absence of desire that can’t be accounted for by other direct causes, such as medication or chronic illness. If these other potential causes can be ruled out, and the lack of desire persists and causes distress for the individual, HSDD may be the reason.

We need to improve diagnosis, treatment and awareness about sexual health

In understanding FSAD and HSDD, we facilitate a more informed discussion about women’s sexual health. Recognizing these disorders and their distinctions can ensure improved diagnosis, treatment, and overall awareness about sexual health.

Anyone experiencing the symptoms of FSAD or HSDD should seek professional medical advice. Help is available, and silence is not the solution. These disorders do not define the women who deal with them, and they should never be a source of shame. By advocating for women’s sexual health, we take steps towards ensuring a right to a healthy, satisfying sexual life for all women.