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Cognitive-Affective Factors and Female Orgasm: a Comparative Study on Women with and Without Orgasm Difficulties


Cognitive-Affective Factors and Female Orgasm: a Comparative Study on Women with and Without Orgasm Difficulties



Journal of Sexual Medicine 17(11): 2220-2228



ISSN/ISBN: 1743-6095

PMID: 32896501

DOI: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2020.08.005

Orgasmic difficulties are one of the most common sexual complaints among women. Although models of sexual dysfunction propose that cognitive-affective factors are involved in the development and maintenance of sexual difficulties, there is a need to further examine how these factors are associated with orgasmic difficulties specifically. To analyze differences between women who reported orgasm difficulties and controls in regard to sexual inhibition, sexual excitation, sexual beliefs, as well as negative automatic thoughts and affect during sexual activity. A total of 500 women, aged 18 to 72 years, completed a Web survey focused on cognitive-affective factors and sexual health. Two hundred fifty women reported orgasm difficulties and were compared with 250 age-matched women who reported no sexual difficulties. Differences between groups regarding sexual inhibition and sexual excitation (Sexual Inhibition/Sexual Excitation Scales-Short Form), sexual beliefs (Sexual Dysfunctional Beliefs Questionnaire), negative automatic thoughts (Automatic Thoughts Subscale of the Sexual Modes Questionnaire), and affect (Positive and Negative Affect Schedule) during sexual activity. Women with orgasm difficulties scored higher on sexual inhibition than controls. They also reported more negative automatic thoughts during sexual activity (concerning failure and disengagement, sexual abuse, lack of affection from partner, passivity, body image) and less erotic thoughts. Women with orgasm difficulties reported experiencing higher negative affect and lower positive affect during sexual activity than women who reported no sexual difficulties. No significant differences were found regarding sexual excitation and endorsement of sexual beliefs. Helping women shift their focus from non-erotic, negative thoughts to erotic stimuli, as well as addressing sexual inhibition, can be relevant targets of interventions aimed at women's orgasm difficulties. Strengths of the study include the use of a large sample of women who reported orgasm difficulties, offering new insights into the clinical importance of these psychological processes. Limitations include the reliance on self-report measures and a relatively homogeneous sample regarding sexual orientation, education, and age. Results highlight the role of cognitive-affective factors on women's orgasm difficulties and emphasize the potential benefit of cognitive-behavioral and/or mindfulness interventions for orgasm difficulties. Moura CV, Tavares IM, Nobre PJ. Cognitive-Affective Factors and Female Orgasm: A Comparative Study on Women With and Without Orgasm Difficulties. J Sex Med 2020;17:2220-2228.

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Accession: 071462908

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