A model of women's sexual arousal

J Sex Marital Ther. 2002 Jan-Feb;28(1):1-10. doi: 10.1080/009262302317250963.


A model of female sexual arousal shows the composite emotion of subjective sexual arousal, which results from conscious appraisal of sexual stimuli and their context in the presence of positive affective and cognitive feedback. Genital feedback augments the subjective arousal to a variable degree. Genital congestion can be triggered by sexual stimuli in the absence of subjective arousal. Then the congestion either is ignored or not interpreted as sexual. An anhedonic or even a dysphoric response to the sensations of genital congestion are further possibilities. This model allows for various subtypes of arousal disorder and thus facilitates a choice of therapeutic intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology
  • Female
  • Genitalia, Female / physiology
  • Humans
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / etiology