Sexual behavior in lesbian and heterosexual women: relations with menstrual cycle phase and partner availability

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2002 May;27(4):489-503. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4530(01)00066-x.


Using a prospective design over three complete menstrual cycles, 147 heterosexual and 89 lesbian women made daily recordings of their basal body temperature (BBT), cervical mucus status, menses, and completed a daily checklist of various sexual behaviors (including sexual self-stimulation and sexual activity with a partner). They also gave their age, height, weight, age at menarche, number of pregnancies, duration of sleep, tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol use, and whether they had a live-in sexual partner. Using BBT, cervical mucus status, and menses information, cycle days were grouped into five discrete phases: menses, follicular, ovulatory, early luteal, and premenstrual. Daily frequencies of sexual behavior with a partner and autosexual behavior were computed for each phase. Mixed ANOVAs on the resultant proportional data revealed similar patterns for autosexual behavior across the phases for both heterosexuals and lesbians who did not have a live-in partner, in which autosexual behavior was highest during the follicular and ovulatory phases. For those with live-in partners, autosexual behavior did not vary across the phases. Lesbians engaged in more autosexual behavior overall. Allosexual behavior peaked during the follicular phase for both heterosexuals and lesbians, and the phasic pattern was unrelated to live-in partner status. Additional analyses suggest that the observed patterns were unrelated to anticipated changes in sexual activity due to menses. Results are discussed in terms of social variables and hormonal fluctuations associated with the menstrual cycle.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Female
  • Homosexuality, Female / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Masturbation / psychology
  • Menstrual Cycle / psychology*
  • Reference Values
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Social Environment