Sexual Dysfunction Scale

Sexual Dysfunction Scale

MARITA P. MCCABE,Deakin University

The Sexual Dysfunction Scale (SDS) is designed to evaluate the factors associated with each of the sexual dysfunctions among males and females. Respondents are asked a

general question about which sexual dysfunctions they are experiencing, and then they complete a set of more specific questions on their particular sexual dysfunction(s).


The SDS consists of the following eight sections (see Table 1 for additional detail): (a) nature of the problem, premature ejaculation, (c) erectile problems, (d) retarded ejaculation, (e) orgasmic dysfunction, (f) female unresponsiveness, (g) vaginismus, and (h) lack of sexual interest.

For each dysfunction, respondents answer questions about medical and lifestyle factors, quality of the respondent’s relationship (if the person is in a relationship), length of time the dysfunction has been in place, the frequency and severity of the dysfunction, attitudes to sexual activities and responses to these activities, response to the dysfunction, and impact of the dysfunction on the respondent’s relationship (if relevant).

The SDS was developed during a 10-year process in the late 1980s and 1990s. The items were initially drawn from the factors that were claimed in the literature to be associated with each particular sexual dysfunction. This resulted in the construction of a guided interview measure that elicited responses to open-ended questions. Subjects were also asked about whether the questions were relevant to their particular sexual dysfunction. This instrument was tested on 55 people with sexual dysfunction (with at least 6 subjects within any particular dysfunctional category). The measure was then converted into a forced-choice format and administered to a sexually dysfunctional population (both clinical and nonclinical subjects; McCabe, 1994a, 1994b). The scale was further modified as a result of these studies and administered to an additional 120 clinically dysfunctional subjects. This third draft of the scale is the one included in this compendium.

Response Mode and Timing

The scale is completed as a questionnaire measure and, depending upon the number of sexual dysfunctions experienced by the respondent, takes from 10 minutes to 50 minutes to complete. All items are objectively scored and consist of either yes/no responses or 5-point Likert-scale responses.


Responses on items may be summed to provide an index of severity (nature of problem x length of time problem has been in place x frequency of problem). There are also separate questions on the medical, lifestyle, and relation-Areas Included in the Sexual Dysfunction Scale and the Reliability of These Scales No. of respondents in reliability study Coefficient alpha




(33 items)



3. Erectile problems

(33 items)



4. Retarded ejaculation

(31 items)



5. Orgasmic dysfunction

(48 items)



6. Female

unresponsiveness (51 items)

7. Vaginismus



(31 items)



8. Lack of sexual interest

(91 items)



  • Nature of the sexual problem (30 items)

  • Premature ejaculation

ship factors surrounding the problem and questions on the impact of the problem on the relationship.

Reliability and Validity

Coefficient alpha for each of the subscales was calculated for 120 subjects who presented to the sexual behaviour clinic for treatment of their sexual problem (see Table 1). The number of subjects with each dysfunction is listed in this table. As some subjects experienced more than one sexual dysfunction, the number of dysfunctions is greater than 120. Subjects with a partner (= 89) were asked to report on the nature of their partner’s problem. The concordance rate between their report and their partner’s report was 82%, thus demonstrating the validity of the scale. Further validity is ensured by the process of the scale construction.

Other Information

The scale, along with the scoring code, may be obtained from the author for use with clinical or research subjects.

Address correspondence to Marita P. McCabe, School of Psychology, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria, Australia 3125; e-mail: [email protected]


McCabe, M. P. (1994a). Childhood, adolescent and current psychological factors associated with sexual dysfunction. Sexual and Marital Therapy, 9, 267–276.

McCabe, M. P. (1994b). The influence of the quality of relationship on sexual dysfunction. Australian Journal of Marriage and the Family, 15, 2–8.