Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 23–31 | Cite as

Labial and vaginal blood volume responses to visual and tactile stimuli

  • Donald E. Henson
  • H. B. Rubin
  • Claudia Henson


Five women volunteers participated in two experimental sessions designed to evaluate the response patterns of two objective psychophysiological measures of women's sexual arousal to different methods (and intensities) of sexual stimulation (i.e., an erotic film and manual self-stimulation). A vaginal photoplethysmograph was used to measure vaginal blood volume response and a labial thermistor-clip was used to measure temperature changes of one of the minor labia. Both measures usually covaried in a highly significant manner during both types of stimulation, with the largest responses typically being evoked by the physical stimulation. The response patterns for the two measures were also similar following both methods of stimulation if the woman did not experience orgasm; both measures decreased to some extent after the stimulation ended but usually remained well above the prestimulatory baseline. Orgasm, however, affected the two genital measures differently. The vaginal blood volume measure decreased dramatically during the reported orgasm, possibly because of vaginal contractions, and then increased to at least the preorgasmic level that occurred during the stimulation. The labial measure did not change during the reported orgasm but decreased relatively rapidly soon after.

Key words

vaginal blood volume photoplethysmography labial temperature change orgasm female sexuality 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald E. Henson
    • 1
  • H. B. Rubin
    • 1
  • Claudia Henson
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Medicine and the Rehabilitation InstituteSouthern Illinois University-CarbondaleCarbondaleUSA

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