Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 48, Issue 8, pp 2491–2506 | Cite as

Emotion Regulation in Couples Affected by Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder

  • Justin P. Dubé
  • Serena Corsini-Munt
  • Amy Muise
  • Natalie O. RosenEmail author
Original Paper


Female sexual interest/arousal disorder (FSIAD) is associated with psychological, relational, and sexual consequences for affected women, and their romantic partners also suffer repercussions. Prior research suggests that women with FSIAD report more difficulties with emotion regulation than controls. Yet, whether emotion regulation is associated with the psychological, relational, and sexual well-being of both members of affected couples is unknown. Eighty-seven women diagnosed with FSIAD via a clinical interview and their male partners completed standardized measures of difficulties in emotion regulation, depression, anxiety, relationship satisfaction, dyadic conflict, sexual desire, and sexual distress. A subset (n = 71 couples) also completed measures of emotional suppression and reappraisal in relation to sex. Analyses used multilevel modeling guided by the actor–partner interdependence model. When women reported greater difficulties regulating negative emotion, they reported greater depression and anxiety, and when men reported more of these difficulties, they had greater depression, anxiety, and sexual distress, and the women with FSIAD reported lower relationship satisfaction. When women reported greater emotional suppression, they reported greater depression and anxiety, and lower relationship satisfaction; when they reported greater use of emotional reappraisal, they had fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, and their partners reported lower dyadic conflict. When men reported greater emotional suppression, they had greater depression, lower relationship satisfaction, and sexual desire; when they reported greater emotional reappraisal, they had lower depression and anxiety, higher relationship satisfaction, lower dyadic conflict, higher sexual desire and women reported higher relationship satisfaction and lower dyadic conflict. Emotion regulation may be an important target for interventions to help couples cope with FSIAD.


Female sexual interest/arousal disorder Couples Emotion regulation Sexual dysfunction DSM–5 



J. P. Dubé was supported by a Canadian Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and by a Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship. S. Corsini-Munt was supported by a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship. This research was supported by a New Investigator Salary Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) awarded to N. O. Rosen, as well as operating grants from the CIHR and SSHRC held by N. O. Rosen and A. Muise. We are grateful to Megan Muise, Kathy Petite, Nicole Snowball, Carmen Boudreau, and Cindy Mackie for their assistance with data collection, and to the couples who participated in this research.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Life Sciences CentreDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of Obstetrics and GynaecologyIWK Health CentreHalifaxCanada

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