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01.03.2020 | Clinical Therapeutics (B McCarthy, R Segraves and R Balon, Section Editors) | Ausgabe 1/2020

Current Sexual Health Reports 1/2020

Eating Disorders and Sexual Function Reviewed: A Trans-diagnostic, Dimensional Perspective

Current Sexual Health Reports > Ausgabe 1/2020
Cara R. Dunkley, Yana Svatko, Lori A. Brotto
Wichtige Hinweise
This article is part of the Topical Collection on Clinical Therapeutics

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Purpose of Review

Clinical observation and a growing body of empirical research point to an association between disordered eating and sexual function difficulties. The present review identifies and connects the current knowledge on sexual dysfunction in the eating disorders, and provides a theoretical framework for conceptualizing the association between these important health conditions.

Recent Findings

Research on sexuality and eating pathology has focused on clinical samples of women with anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN). All aspects of sexual response can be impacted in women with an eating disorder, with sexual function in women with AN appearing to be more compromised than in women with BN. Research of this nature is extremely limited with respect to BED, non-clinical samples, men, and individuals with non-binary gender identities.


Sexuality should be examined and addressed within the context of eating disorder treatment. Sexual dysfunction and eating disorders, along with commonly comorbid disorders of anxiety and mood, can be seen as separate but frequently overlapping manifestations of internalizing psychopathology. Psychological, developmental, sociocultural, etiological, and biophysical factors likely represent risk and maintenance factors for internalizing disorders. A dimensional, trans-diagnostic approach to disordered eating and sexuality has promising implications for future research and clinical interventions.

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