Original Paper

Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 755-765

First online:

Women’s Sexuality, Well-Being, and the Menstrual Cycle: Methodological Issues and Their Interrelationships

  • Susan G. BrownAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Hawaii at HiloSocial Sciences Division, University of Hawaii at Hilo Email author 
  • , Marites J. CalibusoAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Hawaii at Hilo
  • , Amanda L. RoedlAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Hawaii at Hilo

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Although many studies report that women’s sexual behavior varies across their menstrual cycles, the research findings remain inconsistent. In this study, we addressed two methodological issues in research on the menstrual cycle: how ovulation is measured/inferred and whether data using menstrual cycles or participants’ scores averaged across cycles as units of analysis yield similar results. We also employed an abstinent comparison group in addition to examining how emotional well-being was related to libido and sexual behavior through factor and regression analysis. Data were obtained from 97 participants. There were no significant differences in the results of analyses performed using cycles with known LH surges to determine ovulation versus cycles based on backward counts. However, we concluded that statistical power might be compromised when the known timing of ovulation was less accurate. Likewise, we found few overall differences in the results when we analyzed data using cycles with known LH surges compared to participants’ averaged data across cycles. Women, including those in the abstinent group, reported increased sexual behavior prior to ovulation. Allosexual behavior was positively related to libido, and negatively related to positive and “premenstrual” emotional factors. Autosexual behavior was predicted by libido and an energetic/creative emotional factor. Our findings support hypotheses that women’s sexual behavior is related to both mating and pair-bond formation.


Emotional well-being Sexual orientation LH surge Lesbians Menstrual cycle Ovulation