Sexual Response Models: Toward a More Flexible Pattern of Women's Sexuality

J Sex Med. 2016 Sep;13(9):1369-1376. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.07.008.


Introduction: Recent research suggests that none of the current theoretical models can sufficiently describe women's sexual response, because several factors and situations can influence this.

Aim: To explore individual variations of a sexual model that describes women's sexual responses and to assess the association of endorsement of that model with sexual dysfunctions and reasons to engage in sexual activity.

Methods: A sample of 157 randomly selected hospital employees completed self-administered questionnaires.

Main outcome measures: Two models were developed: one merged the Master and Johnson model with the Kaplan model (linear) and the other was the Basson model (circular). Sexual function was evaluated by the Female Sexual Function Index and the Brief Sexual Symptom Checklist for Women. The Reasons for Having Sex Questionnaire was administered to investigate the reasons for which women have sex.

Results: Women reported that their current sexual experiences were at times consistent with the linear and circular models (66.9%), only the linear model (27%), only the circular model (5.4%), and neither model (0.7%). When the groups were reconfigured to the group that endorsed more than 5 of 10 sexual experiences, 64.3% of women endorsed the linear model, 20.4% chose the linear and circular models, 14.6% chose the circular model, and 0.7% selected neither. The Female Sexual Function Index, demographic factors, having sex for insecurity reasons, and sexual satisfaction correlated with the endorsement of a sexual response model. When these factors were entered in a stepwise logistic regression analysis, only the Female Sexual Function Index and having sex for insecurity reasons maintained a significant association with the sexual response model.

Conclusion: The present study emphasizes the heterogeneity of female sexuality, with most of the sample reporting alternating between the linear and circular models. Sexual dysfunctions and having sex for insecurity reasons were associated with the Basson model.

Keywords: Female Sexual Dysfunction; Female Sexuality; Reasons for Sexual Activity; Sexual Response Models; Sexual Satisfaction.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal
  • Coitus / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Orgasm
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / psychology*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult