, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 613-626

Acculturation and Sexual Function in Asian Women

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Cultural effects on sexuality are pervasive and potentially of great clinical importance, but have not yet received sustained empirical attention. The purpose of this study was to explore the role of acculturation on sexual permissiveness and sexual function, with a particular focus on arousal in Asian women living in Canada. We also compared questionnaire responses between Asian and Euro-Canadian groups in hopes of investigating whether acculturation captured unique information not predicted by ethnic group affiliation. Euro-Canadian (n = 173) and Asian (n = 176) female university students completed a battery of questionnaires in private. Euro-Canadian women had significantly more sexual knowledge and experiences, more liberal attitudes, and higher rates of desire, arousal, sexual receptivity, and sexual pleasure. Anxiety from anticipated sexual activity was significantly higher in Asian women, but the groups did not differ significantly on relationship satisfaction or problems with sexual function. Acculturation to Western culture, as well as maintained affiliation with traditional Asian heritage, were both significantly and independently related to sexual attitudes above and beyond length of residency in Canada, and beyond ethnic group comparisons. Overall, these data suggest that measurement of acculturation may capture information about an individual's unique acculturation pattern that is not evident when focusing solely on ethnic group comparisons or length of residency, and that such findings may be important in facilitating the assessment, classification, and treatment of sexual difficulties in Asian women.