The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began the process of updating its Schedule for Rating Disabilities in September 2017. In May 2018, the VA released a new ratings schedule for female veterans related to Female Sexual Arousal Disorder (FSAD). Although the VA did not remove any gynecological conditions, it did add some new ones related to sexual interest/arousal disorder. The VA also restructured diagnostic criteria and codes for other reproductive and sexual functioning disorders at that time.
Female sexual arousal disorder was a major addition to the ratings schedule in 2018. The change came due to the VA wanting to ensure that male and female service members and veterans received equal benefits for sexual function problems.
Male veterans had received coverage for the treatment of erectile dysfunction for many years. Erectile dysfunction is the primary male sexual function issue and meets the diagnostic criteria of a disability. Military healthcare plans have long covered Viagra as a treatment option for erectile dysfunction. The increasing number of enlisted female soldiers forced the VA to address why female sexual dysfunction did not receive the same benefits and number of treatment options as male sexual function issues.
Understanding Female Sexual Arousal Disorder (FSAD)
FSAD is an all-encompassing term to describe female sexual dysfunction. Your doctor may provide a diagnosis of FSAD if you meet any of these diagnostic criteria:
- Low sex drive: Also known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder, low sex drive is common in women with FSAD. Having a low sex drive means you have little to no interest in initiating sexual activity or following through with sexual intercourse.
- Orgasmic disorder: Women with orgasmic disorder have difficulty achieving orgasm even after experiencing intense genital sensations and having the desire to engage in sexual intercourse. Reduced blood flow to the clitoris is a common cause of orgasmic disorder.
- Sexual arousal problems: Your desire for sexual activity is normal, but you have arousal problems that make it challenging to become aroused through clitoral stimulation or remain aroused long enough for sexual intercourse.
- Sexual pain disorder: This symptom of FSAD causes pain during sexual stimulation or during any type of vaginal contact.
Women with any of the following risk factors are more likely to develop FSAD:
- Blood vessel disease
- Heart disease
- History of trauma, particularly sexual abuse
- Neurological conditions
- Sexual side effects of certain medication
Please note that FSAD is not a mental health condition even when a history of sexual abuse contributes to its symptoms. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) makes no mention of FSAD nor is FSAD a diagnosis of exclusion.
Your healthcare provider is the only one who can make a diagnosis of FSAD after completing a gynecological exam. Gynecological clinicians look for physiological issues that contribute to problems with genital arousal, blood flow, lubrication, recurrent inability to complete sexual intercourse, and other common female sexual dysfunction problems.
You may be eligible for compensation from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs if you can prove that you developed FSAD while on active duty or your FSAD became worse in the military. To meet eligibility requirements for VA payments, you must be able to establish a service connection between your military service and FSAD symptoms.
How to Establish a Service Connection for FSAD
You must have a diagnosis of FSAD from a qualified healthcare professional to apply for disability benefits for FSAD. Next, you need to show proof of an in-service event, illness, or injury that caused you to develop FSAD or made it worse. Lastly, you need to establish a medical nexus between your in-service event and a diagnosis of FSAD.
You should be prepared to report for a Compensation and Pension (C & P) exam. The clinicians working with you will ask you questions about female sexual interest and sexual performance problems. This is necessary to establish a service connection that enables you to apply for VA benefits.
VA Rating System for FSAD
The VA uses 38 CFR § 4.116 Schedule of Ratings: Gynecological Conditions and Disorders of the Breast when determining your eligibility for disability payments. A diagnosis of FSAD due to military service receives a 0 percent disability rating.
The one exception to the 0 percent disability rating is when you have sustained physical damage to your vagina, clitoris, or other sexual organs and can prove a service connection. In the case of physical damage to reproductive organs, the VA rates your disability according to the appropriate diagnostic criteria.
You may be eligible for special monthly compensation for FSAD if you became infertile while on active duty due to losing the use of your reproductive organs. Infertility can also result from low estrogen levels. Whether you qualify for VA payments or not, it is important to understand your treatment options for sexual interest/arousal disorder and to seek help from a gynecologist specializing in sexual functioning disorders.
Contact Hill & Ponton for Help with Your VA Disability Claim
We invite you to visit the web site of Hill & Ponton, a disability rights law firm with multiple satellite offices throughout the country. You can request a free case evaluation from our web site or contact us directly at 888-373-9436. Our attorneys have decades of combined experience helping both male and female veterans receive the compensation and/or disability payments they have earned from serving the United States military.
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