Effect of body image and self-image on women's sexual behaviors

Int J Eat Disord. 2000 Dec;28(4):422-9. doi: 10.1002/1098-108x(200012)28:4<422::aid-eat10>3.0.co;2-1.


Objectives: To evaluate the relationship between women's body image, self-image, and sexual behaviors; to determine the effect of body image on personal and sex variables; and to identify factors that contribute to more frequent and greater comfort with sex.

Method: A magazine survey that included items about body image, self-image, and sexual behaviors was completed by 3,627 women.

Results: Women more satisfied with body image reported more sexual activity, orgasm, and initiating sex, greater comfort undressing in front of their partner, having sex with the lights on, trying new sexual behaviors, and pleasing their partner sexually than those dissatisfied. Positive body image was inversely related to self-consciousness and importance of physical attractiveness, and positively related to relationships with others and overall satisfaction. Body image was predictive only of one's comfort undressing in front of partner and having sex with lights on. Overall satisfaction was predictive of frequency of sex, orgasm, and initiating sex, trying new sexual behaviors, and confidence in giving partner sexual pleasure.

Discussion: Results indicate that overall self-image and body image are significant predictors of sexual activity. Directions for future research are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Image*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Self Concept*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires