Elucidating Women's (hetero)Sexual Desire: Definitional Challenges and Content Expansion

Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV 89154-5030, USA.
The Journal of Sex Research (Impact Factor: 2.7). 03/2010; 47(2):104-22. DOI: 10.1080/00224490903402546
Source: PubMed


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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    • "Third, powerful sociocultural forces have shaped the experience and expression of women's sexual desire (Meana, 2010). Specifically, women's sexual desire has been historically viewed as socially problematic and disruptive, which extended into the twentieth century (McLaren, 1999; Moynihan, 2003; Tanenbaum, 1999). "
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    ABSTRACT: Historically, women's sexual desire has been deemed socially problematic. The growing popularity of the concept of hypersexuality-which lists high sexual desire among its core components-poses a risk of re-pathologizing female sexual desire. Data from a 2014 online survey of 2,599 Croatian women aged 18-60 years was used to examine whether high sexual desire is detrimental to women's relationship and sexual well-being. Based on the highest scores on an indicator of sexual desire, 178 women were classified in the high sexual desire (HSD) group; women who scored higher than one standard deviation above the Hypersexual Disorder Screening Inventory mean were categorized in the hypersexuality (HYP) group (n = 239). Fifty-seven women met the classification criteria for both groups (HYP&HSD). Compared to other groups, the HSD was the most sexually active group. Compared to controls, the HYP and HYP&HSD groups-but not the HSD group-reported significantly more negative consequences associated with their sexuality. Compared to the HYP group, women with HSD reported better sexual function, higher sexual satisfaction, and lower odds of negative behavioral consequences. The findings suggest that, at least among women, hypersexuality should not be conflated with high sexual desire and frequent sexual activity.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · The Journal of Sex Research
    • "Being in an intimate relationship usually involves risks. They can be related to personal vulnerability , including the fear of rejection, exposure, loss of control or betrayal (Hatfield, 1984; Patrick & Beckenbach, 2009), or to the boredom and routine that characterize many longterm relationships (Pedersen & Blekesaune, 2003; Sims & Meana, 2010). In the clinical context, emotionally fused or poorly differentiated intimate relationships, characterized by overreliance on other-validation and a lack of autonomy, have been proposed as being particularly damaging to sexual desire (Perel, 2007; Schnarch, 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Emotional intimacy cuts across contexts as diverse as sexual motivation and satisfaction, psychological and physical health, and relational well-being. Although the experience of intimacy and its effects on sex life may be gender and sexual orientation-specific, the role of intimacy in personal and sexual relationships has been studied mostly among heterosexual individuals and couples. Using the minority stress framework (Meyer, 2003) to address this gap in knowledge, the present study comparatively explored levels and predictors/correlates of emotional intimacy, and its association with sexual satisfaction among coupled heterosexual and gay/bisexual men sampled online in a predominantly homonegative country (Croatia). Heterosexual participants (n = 860; M age = 36.4, SD = 9.09) were recruited in 2011 and gay/bisexual participants (n = 250; M age = 29.4, SD = 7.13) in 2013. Controlling for age and relationship duration, gay/bisexual men reported higher levels of emotional intimacy than heterosexual men. Suggesting that the role of emotional intimacy in sexual satisfaction is not sexual orientation-specific, the strength of the association between these two constructs was similar in both samples. However, internalized homonegativity, which was negatively associated with emotional intimacy in this study, remains a challenge to creating and maintaining intimacy in male same-sex relationships.
    No preview · Article · May 2015 · Archives of Sexual Behavior
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    • "In our own research, many women reported that they were concerned about weight gain or other bodily changes after menopause, but that their partners reassured them that they were still attractive: ''My partner tells me I am beautiful, and so I have to believe it''; ''it has strengthened our relationship and made me feel more confident sexually and physically that he obviously does find me attractive.'' Feeling desired is central to many women's sexual desire (Graham et al., 2004), with the desire to be desired often difficult to distinguish from the desire to have sex (Meana, 2010). In our research, we found evidence of partner desire being described as the reason why many women were continuing to enjoy sexual activity following menopause: ''he shows he loves me more often, both in and out of the bedroom;'' ''my husband still loves me and desires me so that has made me feel appreciated by him and I love him even more.'' "
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Feminism & Psychology
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