Turning On and Turning Off: A Focus Group Study of the Factors That Affect Women's Sexual Arousal

Department of Gender Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47404-2501, USA.
Archives of Sexual Behavior (Impact Factor: 3.53). 01/2005; 33(6):527-38. DOI: 10.1023/B:ASEB.0000044737.62561.fd
Source: PubMed


The aim of this study was to inform the development of a questionnaire to assess a woman's tendency to respond with sexual excitation/inhibition in different situations. Nine focus groups, involving 80 women (M age = 34.3 years; range, 18-84), were conducted. Women described a wide range of physical (genital and nongenital), cognitive/emotional, and behavioral cues to arousal. The relationship between sexual interest (desire) and sexual arousal was complex; sexual interest was reported as sometimes preceding arousal, but at other times following it. Many women did not clearly differentiate between arousal and interest. Qualitative data on the factors that women perceived as "enhancers" and "inhibitors" of sexual arousal are presented, with a focus on the following themes: feelings about one's body; concern about reputation; unwanted pregnancy/contraception; feeling desired versus feeling used by a partner; feeling accepted by a partner; style of approach/initiation; and negative mood. The findings can help inform conceptualizations of sexual arousal in women.

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Available from: Robin Milhausen, Feb 10, 2014
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    • "A third component – sexual anxiety – decreases (Hensel, O'Sullivan et al. 2011). The measure clearly does not differentiate sexual interest from sexual arousal although adult women report difficulty in making this distinction (Graham, Sanders et al. 2004). "
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    ABSTRACT: Theoretical and empirical linkages of adult women's sexual interest and sexual behaviors are relatively well-established, but few data address similar issues in adolescent women. This paper reviews data from published reports of associations of adolescent women's sexual interest and various sexual behaviors. All of the papers reported data collected from a single longitudinal cohort of young women. The primary source of data collection was daily diaries, allowing close temporal pairing of sexual interest with sexual behaviors. Young women's sexual interest on a given day was consistently and independently associated with sexual activity on that day, whether the behavior was first lifetime coitus, coitus, fellatio, cunnilingus, anal intercourse, or coitus during menses. We also found no evidence of influence of hormonal contraceptives on young women's sexual interest. Taken together, these data demonstrate the relevance of sexual interest as a key factor in young women's sexuality and sexual behavior.
    Hormones and Behavior 03/2011; 59(5):739-44. DOI:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.03.003 · 4.63 Impact Factor
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    • "Anorgasmia correlated with non-sensuality and vaginismus to a large size effect whereas infrequency and avoidance correlated on a small size effect. Reduced sensuality for a partner wanes desire for sexual intercourse which culminates in orgasmic disorders and pain during sex [24]. Such episodes may lead to sexual infrequencies and a general avoidance of sexual intercourse with the partner. "
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    Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 09/2010; 8(1):106. DOI:10.1186/1477-7827-8-106 · 2.23 Impact Factor
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    • "The original SESII questionnaire, comprised of 115 items which refer to stimulus situations that could affect sexual inhibition and sexual excitation or to general statements about sexual arousal and inhibition, was the basis for the current investigation. The items were related to the eight categories identified in the previous focus group study (Graham et al., 2004): self (e.g., mood, body image, general health, concern regarding reputation); partner (e.g., physical appearance, personality); relationship dynamics/interaction (e.g., relationship quality); elements of the sexual interaction (e.g., timing, communication); setting (e.g., romantic, novel); sexual or erotic stimuli (e.g., fantasy, visual images); sexual and reproductive health (e.g., contraception, STDs); and alcohol/drug use. Two items were added to create versions of questions that would be appropriate for men. "
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of the current investigation was to develop a scale that would assess propensity for sexual arousal in response to a broad range of stimuli and sexual situations in both men and women. In Study 1, data from a nonclinical sample of 481 male and female students (graduate and undergraduate) were submitted to exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses in order to develop the Sexual Excitation/Sexual Inhibition Inventory for Women and Men (SESII-W/M), and gender differences on the subscales were tested. In Study 2, construct validity and test-retest reliability of the SESII-W/M were assessed with a second sample of undergraduate students. The resultant measurement tool was comprised of six subscales: Inhibitory Cognitions, Relationship Importance, Arousability, Partner Characteristics and Behaviors, Setting (Unusual or Unconcealed), and Dyadic Elements of the Sexual Interaction. The measure demonstrated good test-retest reliability and discriminant and convergent validity. The SESII-W/M will likely be a useful measure in investigations in which sexual inhibition and sexual excitation must be assessed identically for men and women.
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