Ethical and Sociocultural Aspects of Sexual Function and Dysfunction in Both Sexes

Sandrine Atallah, Crista Johnson-Agbakwu, Talli Rosenbaum, Carmita Abdo, E. Sandra Byers, Cynthia Graham, Pedro Nobre, Kevan Wylie, Lori Brotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Aims This study aimed to highlight the salient sociocultural factors contributing to sexual health and dysfunction and to offer recommendations for culturally sensitive clinical management and research as well for an ethically sound sexual health care, counseling and medical decision-making. Background There are limited data on the impact of sociocultural factors on male and female sexual function as well as on ethical principles to follow when clinical care falls outside of traditional realms of medically indicated interventions. Methods This study reviewed the current literature on sociocultural and ethical considerations with regard to male and female sexual dysfunction as well as cultural and cosmetic female and male genital modification procedures. Results It is recommended that clinicians evaluate their patients and their partners in the context of culture and assess distressing sexual symptoms regardless of whether they are a recognized dysfunction. Both clinicians and researchers should develop culturally sensitive assessment skills and instruments. There are a number of practices with complex ethical issues (eg, female genital cutting, female and male cosmetic genital surgery). Future International Committee of Sexual Medicine meetings should seek to develop guidelines and associated recommendations for a separate, broader chapter on ethics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-606
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cultural Sensitivity
  • Culture
  • Ethics
  • Religious Beliefs
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Sociocultural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Urology


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