Do subjective feelings of arousal predict genital arousal in women?
Previous literature has shown that women’s mental feelings of sexual arousal do not necessarily coincide with the arousal of the genitals. In other words, a woman’s feeling of pleasure may not be accompanied by swelling and lubrication of the vagina. A woman may experience arousal of the genitals but not a feeling of pleasure. This is not what is seen in men, where, an erection is usually experienced together with feelings of pleasure.
In a very recent study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy (Suschinsky et al. 2019), the authors aimed to assess whether the concordance between mental arousal and genital arousal differs with the presence or absence of sexual problems.
The study was conducted on a community sample and the results had interesting clinical implications.
It was seen that the concordance between subjective arousal and vaginal arousal was weak to moderately positive. However, the concordance was higher in women with poorer sexual functioning. Specifically, among women with lower sexual desire, changes in mental arousal predicted changes in genital responses.
These results suggest that the mental experience of arousal may be particularly important in increasing genital responses in women with low sexual desire. Therapeutic approaches that enhance women’s emotional or subjective experiences of sexual arousal may therefore be beneficial for women with low sexual desire.