Elucidating women's (hetero)sexual desire: definitional challenges and content expansion.
ABSTRACT The literature on women's sexual desire is reviewed with an emphasis on definitional challenges, an assessment of the empirical basis for the distinction between spontaneous and responsive desire, a reconsideration of the extent to which women's sexual desire is relational in nature, and an exploration of the incentive value of sex for women as a factor partially independent from the experience of sexual desire. Nine recommendations are made regarding research and diagnostic directions. The article concludes with an appeal for the inclusion of eroticism in research and clinical work on sexual desire.
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ABSTRACT: Medical discourse has positioned the menopausal transition as a time of sexual atrophy and loss of femininity, with hormonal replacement as the solution. In contrast, feminist critics have argued that women’s experience of sexual embodiment during menopause is culturally and relationally mediated, tied to discursive constructions of aging and sexuality, which are negotiated by women. The aim of this article is to present a critical examination of women’s experiences of sexuality during and after the menopausal transition, drawing on previous research in this field, as well as qualitative research we have conducted with women at midlife, and women who have experienced premature menopause as a consequence of cancer treatment. We aim to challenge myths and misconceptions about the inevitability of sexual decline at menopause, as well as normalise the embodied changes that some women experience - whether menopause is premature, or occurs at midlife. We argue that sexual difficulties or disinterest reported by women during and after menopause are more strongly associated with psycho-social factors than hormonal status, in particular psychological well-being, relationship context and a woman’s negotiation of cultural constructions of sex, aging and femininity. However, sexuality can continue to be a positive experience for women throughout adult life and into old age, with many menopausal women reporting increased sexual desire and response. This undermines the biomedical construction of menopause as a time of inevitable sexual atrophy and decay.Feminism & Psychology 01/2015; DOI:10.1177/0959353515579735 · 0.58 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Sexual orientation typically describes people's sexual attractions or desires based on their sex relative to that of a target. Despite its utility, it has been critiqued in part because it fails to account for non-biological gender-related factors, partnered sexualities unrelated to gender or sex, or potential divergences between love and lust. In this article, I propose Sexual Configurations Theory (SCT) as a testable, empirically grounded framework for understanding diverse partnered sexualities, separate from solitary sexualities. I focus on and provide models of two parameters of partnered sexuality-gender/sex and partner number. SCT also delineates individual gender/sex. I discuss a sexual diversity lens as a way to study the particularities and generalities of diverse sexualities without privileging either. I also discuss how sexual identities, orientations, and statuses that are typically seen as misaligned or aligned are more meaningfully conceptualized as branched or co-incident. I map out some existing identities using SCT and detail its applied implications for health and counseling work. I highlight its importance for sexuality in terms of measurement and social neuroendocrinology, and the ways it may be useful for self-knowledge and feminist and queer empowerment and alliance building. I also make a case that SCT changes existing understandings and conceptualizations of sexuality in constructive and generative ways informed by both biology and culture, and that it is a potential starting point for sexual diversity studies and research.Archives of Sexual Behavior 03/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10508-015-0490-8 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Women with a history of cancer have often been exposed to experiences and treatments that interfere with their sexual lives. As in the general population, the most common problem among female cancer survivors is a loss of interest in or desire for sex. This aim of this review is to describe psychosocial and disease-specific influences on sexual desire and related aspects of functioning in women with cancer. Whereas factors such as poor body image, premature menopause, mood disturbance, and adverse treatment side effects are key risk factors for low sexual desire among survivors, it is also important to consider the survivor’s existing sexual beliefs and context and how these shape her reactions to the challenges posed by cancer treatment. Treatment approaches for low desire in cancer survivors are still in the early stage of development. However, a few recent trials offer promising directions for further research.Current Sexual Health Reports 03/2015; 7(1). DOI:10.1007/s11930-014-0036-4