Sexual functioning and self-reported depressive symptoms among college women

J Sex Res. 2002 Nov;39(4):321-5. doi: 10.1080/00224490209552156.


We conducted an exploratory study comparing 47 college-aged women reporting depressive symptoms but not receiving antidepressant medication to 47 age-matched controls. We examined various dimensions of sexual functioning, including sexual desire, arousal, orgasm, pain, pleasure, and satisfaction. The women with depressive symptoms reported more inhibited sexual arousal, more inhibited orgasm, more sexual pain problems, and less sexual satisfaction and pleasure than control participants. Novel to this study, the women with depressive symptoms reported greater desire for sexual activity alone (masturbation) than the nondepressed women. The findings are discussed in terms of primary reinforcers and depressive symptomology.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / physiopathology
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Masturbation / psychology
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Sexuality / psychology*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women's Health