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Women's Well-Being & Sexuality Study: Factors Affecting Sexual Arousal in Women

This project uses a women-centered approach to explore sexual arousal and the concepts of sexual excitation/inhibition in women. Data from nine focus groups held with women from diverse backgrounds were used to develop a questionnaire to assess a woman's tendency to
respond with sexual inhibition and sexual excitation in a variety of situations.

CURRENT PROJECTS:
Women’s Survey - 700 women of varying ages and backgrounds have completed the questionnaire, developed from what we learned from the focus groups, and a number of other standardized questionnaires. Data analysis is looking at the relationship between scores on this questionnaire and measures of sexual risk-taking and sexual problems.

FINDINGS:
Findings from our qualitative focus group data suggest that the nature of "cues" to sexual arousal and the factors affecting sexual excitation and sexual inhibition may be different for women and men. Factors such as concern about reputation, unwanted pregnancy, and hormonal changes may be particularly salient for women. Our data also suggest that there may be a different time relationship between inhibition and sexual activity in men and women, with inhibition occurring earlier in women. We are also finding differences between women of different age groups in factors affecting sexual arousal.

Sanders, S.A., Graham, C.A., Milhausen, R.R. (2007). Predicting Sexual Problems in Women: The Relevance of Sexual Excitation and Inhibition. Archives of Sexual Behavior, DOI 10.1007/s10508-007-9235-7. pdf

Graham, C. A., Sanders, S., Millhausen, R. R., McBride, K. R. (2004). Turning On and Turning Off: A Focus Group Study of the Factors That Affect Women's Sexual Arousal. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 33 (6), 527-538. pdf

INVESTIGATORS:
Stephanie Sanders
, Ph.D., Cynthia Graham, Ph.D, and Erick Janssen, Ph.D.
Co-investigators: Robin Milhausen and Kim McBride.

FUNDED BY :
The Lilly Center for Women's Health.

SEE ALSO:
Read Kinsey Today (2004) newsletter article here

For a description of the broader research agenda and theory, see Sexual Inhibition and Excitation.

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