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Despite the high prevalence of sexual dysfunction, the high level of suffering of affected women* and the associated shame, there are hardly any contact persons and effective therapeutic approaches in the healthcare system. The aim of the working group Female Desire is to improve this situation through scientific work on new therapeutic approaches for the treatment of female sexual dysfunction.

Female sexual dysfunctions are multifactorial and therapeutic approaches are equally diverse. Therefore, the members of the working group are convinced that it is essential for further developments in research to include the perspective of patients and other relevant stakeholders. This is the only way how new strategies can be aligned with the needs of affected women*.

With the support of the QUEST Grant for Patient & Stakeholder Engagement, the Female Desire working group was able to carry out a research project from July to December 2021 that was led by Dr. Laura Hatzler and coordinated by Selina Kronthaler. The central aim of the project was – together with stakeholders – to co-develop strategies on how research can contribute to improving the treatment of female sexual dysfunction.

Stakeholders participated in three different ways:

  1. Co-Researchers: Three affected persons were involved as co-researchers – they were part of the research team.
  2. Advisory Board Members: Five representatives of affected persons were selected for an advisory board. These representatives belonged to groups of women who frequently come into contact with sexual problems and/or whose perspective has mostly been neglected in research so far.
  3. Representative Survey: With the help of a representative survey that was conducted by an external survey institute, people were asked about sexual problems, comorbidities, their current care situation, and alternative care wishes for healthcare.

The aim of this six-month project was to find out what interventions women* with sexual problems would like to see. Researchers, co-researchers, and members of the Advisory Board conjointly discussed questions such as "What should be the aim of research on sexual dysfunction?", "What questions should research urgently answer?", "What kind of therapy do those affected want?" or "What ethical principles should research specifically consider here?". The overall goal was to generate the questionnaire for the representative survey and to derive a study protocol and a study design for future clinical studies. The results of the project will be submitted to a scientific journal soon, and they will be used for the planning of future studies.



Dr. Laura Hatzler

Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine, Working Group Female Desire

Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

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