Society and cultural barriers will continue to prevent women from recognising that they may suffer from female sexual dysfunction and seeking help, according to a new report.

Furthermore, the analysis, published by Datamonitor, notes that the non life-threatening nature of the disorders means that FSD “is often disregarded by the medical community”. FSD is an umbrella term that covers a variety of different dproblems from hypoactive sexual desire disorder (or low libido) and sexual arousal disorder to painful intercourse. Also there is often an overlap between disorders that can affect diagnosis and treatment.

Maya Marescotti, women’s health analyst at Datamonitor, says there is “a stigma associated with talking about sex, cultural embarrassment, and avoidance of discussion of sexual dysfunction in the clinical environment”. She adds that “these are common barriers that prevent doctors and patients from talking about sex”.

In a recent US study of 198 healthcare providers, only 34% of physicians would discuss sexual health with their patients on their own initiative. An earlier study across the pond showed that 75% of women would rather not discuss the subject as they thought the doctor would not be interested.

There is only one FSD drug available in the UK, where over 10 million women are thought to suffer from sexual dysfunction in their lifetime. That is Procter & Gamble’s Intrinsa, a testosterone skin patch which is given to women who have had their uterus and/or ovaries removed. New therapies are on the way, however, some of which target the psychological aspect of FSD, including Boehringer Ingelheim’s flibanserin, an oral pill originally developed as an antidepressant.

However, Ms Marescotti notes that “those hoping for a ‘female Viagra’ will be disappointed. In contrast to erectile dysfunction, she adds that “the complicated nature of FSD means that a quick fix in the form of an effective pill is very hard to achieve”.