Determinants of subjective experience of sexual arousal in women: feedback from genital arousal and erotic stimulus content

Psychophysiology. 1995 Sep;32(5):444-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.1995.tb02095.x.


Sixty-two women participated in a study designed to explore the association between genital and subjective sexual arousal. Four stimulus conditions were created, designed to evoke differential patterns of genital arousal over time. Subjects were instructed to report sensations in their genitalia while being exposed to the same erotic stimulus on repeated trials or to a series of varying erotic stimuli. Detection of genital arousal was facilitated by the occurrence of changes in genital arousal over trials. That is, genital and subjective sexual arousal were linearly related in conditions that resulted in large differences in genital arousal over trials, whereas such a relation was absent in conditions in which genital arousal levels remained relatively constant. In women, peripheral feedback from consciously detected genital arousal seems to be a relatively unimportant determinant of subjective sexual arousal.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Erotica
  • Feedback / physiology
  • Female
  • Genitalia, Female / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Plethysmography
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Vagina / blood supply
  • Vagina / physiology*