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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    • "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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