The Mediating Effect of Daily Stress on the Sexual Arousal Function of Women With a History of Childhood Sexual Abuse

ArticleinJournal of Sex and Marital Therapy 39(2):176-92 · March 2013with76 Reads
Impact Factor: 1.27 · DOI: 10.1080/0092623X.2012.691950 · Source: PubMed


    Psychopathologies such as posttraumatic stress disorder are often proposed as mediators of the sexual arousal dysfunction experienced by women with a history of childhood maltreatment. However, posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms are only part of the difficulties experienced by these women. Other factors to consider include negative affectivity and perceived daily stress. To assess the mediating role of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, negative affectivity, and perceived daily stress, we collected data from 62 women with and without a history of childhood maltreatment (sexual, physical and emotional abuse). A comprehensive assessment of sexual arousal functioning and sexual responses was obtained using self-reported measures and psychophysiological measures of vaginal engorgement and subjective sexual arousal during exposure to sexual visual stimuli. The model assessed the simultaneous mediating effect of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, negative affectivity and perceived daily stress on the relation between childhood maltreatment and sexual variables. Daily stress, showed a significant and stronger mediation effect on sexual arousal functioning as compared to posttraumatic stress disorder and negative affectivity. These findings suggest that daily stress may be an important mechanism to consider when treating sexual arousal functioning in women who have a history of childhood maltreatment.