Sexual desire, sexual arousal and hormonal differences in premenopausal US and Dutch women with and without low sexual desire
Heiman, Julia R × Rupp, Heather Janssen, Erick Newhouse, Sarah K Brauer, Marieke Laan, Ellen #
Hormones and Behavior vol:59 issue:5 pages:772-779
The interaction between women’s hormonal condition and subjective, physiological, and behavioral indices of desire or arousal remain only partially explored, in spite of frequent reports from women about problems with a lack of sexual desire. The present study recruited premenopausal women at two sites, one in the United States and the other in the Netherlands, and incorporated various measures of acute changes in sexual desire and arousal. A sample of 46 women who met criteria for Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) was compared to 47 women who experienced no sexual problems (SF). Half of each group used oral contraceptives (OCs). The specific goal was to investigate whether there is a relationship between women’s hormone levels and their genital and subjective sexual responsiveness. Background demographics and health variables, including oral contraceptive (OC) use, were recorded and hormones (total testosterone (T), free testosterone (FT), SHBG, and estradiol) were analyzed along with vaginal pulse amplitude and self-report measures of desire and arousal in response to sexual fantasy, visual sexual stimuli, and photos of men’s faces. Self-reported arousal and desire was lower in the HSDD than the SF group, but only for women who were not using oral contraceptives. Relationships between hormones and sexual function differed depending on whether a woman was HSDD or not. In line with prior literature, FT was positively associated with physiological and subjective sexual arousal in the SF group. The HSDD women demonstrated the opposite pattern, in that FT was negatively associated with subjective sexual responsiveness. The findings suggest a possible alternative relationship between hormones and sexual responsiveness in women with HSDD who have characteristics similar to those in the present study.