A Pilot Study of Eight-Session Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Adapted for Women's Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder

J Sex Res. 2017 Sep;54(7):850-861. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2016.1208800. Epub 2016 Aug 15.


While few treatment options exist for low sexual desire and arousal, the most common sexual dysfunction in women, a growing body of research supports the efficacy of mindfulness-based approaches. The mechanisms underlying improvements, and whether they are due to mindfulness practice or other treatment components, are unclear. As a result, we designed and pilot-tested an eight-session group mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for sexuality (MBCT-S) program that includes more extensive practice of mindfulness skills and closely aligns with the evidence-based MBCT program for depression and anxiety. A total of 26 women (mean age 43.9, range 25 to 63) with a diagnosis of sexual interest/arousal disorder participated in eight weekly group sessions, before and after which they completed validated questionnaires. The majority of women attended all sessions and completed the recommended at-home mindfulness exercises. Compared to baseline, women reported significant improvements in sexual desire, overall sexual function, and sex-related distress, regardless of treatment expectations, relationship duration, or low desire duration. Depressed mood and mindfulness also significantly improved and mediated increases in sexual function. These pilot data suggest that eight-session MBCT-S is feasible and significantly improves sexual function, and provide the basis for a larger randomized-controlled trial (RCT) with a longer follow-up period.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / therapy*