The enhancing effects of anxiety on arousal in sexually dysfunctional and functional women

J Abnorm Psychol. 1990 Nov;99(4):403-11. doi: 10.1037//0021-843x.99.4.403.


Effects of anxiety on sexual arousal were examined to determine if sexually dysfunctional and functional women exhibit different patterns of physiological and subjective response. Subjects viewed 2 videotape conditions: an anxiety-evoking and neutral-control preexposure stimulus, each paired with a sexual arousal-evoking stimulus. Anxiety preexposure enhanced the rate and magnitude of genital arousal for both dysfunctional and functional subjects in relation to the neutral condition. Despite increased genital responses, both groups reported less subjective sexual arousal after anxiety preexposure. Functional subjects exhibited greater physiological but not subjective arousal than dysfunctional subjects in both conditions. Results are discussed in terms of desynchronous patterns of sexual response, mechanisms by which sympathetic activation enhances sexual arousal, and implications for treatment of sexual dysfunction in women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Arousal*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Orgasm
  • Personality Inventory
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / psychology*