Beyond lesbian bed death: enhancing our understanding of the sexuality of sexual-minority women in relationships

J Sex Res. 2014;51(8):893-903. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2013.795924. Epub 2013 Aug 7.


The goal of this study was to characterize the sexuality of sexual-minority (i.e., lesbian, bisexual, queer, unlabeled, questioning) women. Participants were 586 women (87% White) in a same-sex relationship of 1 to 36 years in duration. They completed measures assessing their sexual behavior (frequency of nongenital and genital sexual activities), motivation (sexual desire), and cognitive-affective responses (sexual satisfaction, sexual esteem, sexual anxiety, negative automatic thoughts). On average, the women reported experiencing their sexuality positively across all domains. Regardless of relationship duration, most of the women reported engaging in both genital and nongenital sexual behaviors with their partner once a week or more; few reported that they had not engaged in sexual activity in the previous month. A multiple regression analysis indicated that frequency of genital sexual activity, sexual desire, sexual anxiety, and automatic thoughts contributed uniquely to the prediction of sexual satisfaction over and above the other sexuality variables. The findings are discussed in terms of the idea that lesbians have sex less frequently than other couple types and that sexual frequency declines rapidly in lesbian relationships (i.e., "lesbian bed death") and descriptions of sexual-minority women's sexuality that suggest that genital sexual activity is not important to sexual satisfaction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bisexuality / psychology*
  • Female
  • Homosexuality, Female / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Young Adult