Why is impaired sexual function distressing to women? the primacy of pleasure in female sexual dysfunction
Stephenson, K.R.; Meston, C.M.
Journal of Sexual Medicine 12(3): 728-737
Recent research has highlighted a complex association between female sexual function and subjective distress regarding sexual activity. These findings are difficult to explain given limited knowledge as to the mechanisms through which impaired sexual function causes distress. The current study assessed whether a number of specific consequences of impaired sexual function, including decreased physical pleasure, disruption of sexual activity, and negative partner responses, mediated the association between sexual function and distress. Eighty-seven women in sexually active relationships reporting impairments in sexual function completed validated self-report measures and daily online assessments of sexual experiences. Participants completed the Sexual Satisfaction Scale for Women, the Female Sexual Function Index, and the Measure of Sexual Consequences. Results suggested that decreased physical pleasure and disruption of sexual activity, but not partner responses, statistically mediated the association between sexual function and distress. Sexual consequences represent potential maintaining factors of sexual dysfunction that are highly distressing to women. Results are discussed in the context of theoretical models of sexual dysfunction and related treatments.