Skip to main content

Sexual arousal in women: The development of a measurement device for vaginal blood volume


Undergraauate women were shown erotic and nonerotic films. A vaginal photoplethysmograph was developed and used to measure pressure pulse and vaginal blood volume during film presentations. All subjects yielded a visible increase in pressure pulse amplitude during the presentation of the erotic films. Statistical analyses of the pressure pulse data strongly confirmed (p <0.001) the visual impressions. In addition, total blood volume in the vaginal wall also increased (p <0.005) during the presentation of the erotic film. Subjective ratings of sexual arousal did not correlate with physiological measures. The results indicate that a simple and reliable device for measuring vaginal pressure pulse and blood volume is available. Measures obtained from the device appear to be useful for detecting sexual arousal in women.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Cohen, H. D., and Shapiro, A. (1970). A method for measuring sexual arousal in the female.Psychophysiology 8: 251 (abst.).

    Google Scholar 

  • Fisher, S., and Osofsky, H. (1968). Sexual responsiveness in women, physiological correlates.Psychol. Rep. 22: 215–226.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Masters, W., and Johnson, V. (1966).Human Sexual Response Little, Brown, Boston.

    Google Scholar 

  • Novelly, A., Berone, P. J., and Ax, A. F. (1973). Photoplethysmography: System calibration and light history effects.Psychophysiology 10: 67–73.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Shapiro, A., Cohen, H. D., DiBianco, P., and Rosen, G. (1968). Vaginal blood flow changes during sleep and sexual arousal.Psychophysiology 4: 394 (abst.).

    Google Scholar 

  • Zuckerman, M. (1971). Physiological measures of sexual arousal in the human.Psychol. Bull. 75: 297–329.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Additional information

A preliminary report of this paper was read at the Society for Psychophysiological Research meetings in Galveston, Texas, October 1973.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Geer, J.H., Morokoff, P. & Greenwood, P. Sexual arousal in women: The development of a measurement device for vaginal blood volume. Arch Sex Behav 3, 559–564 (1974).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Blood Volume
  • Pressure Pulse
  • Subjective Rating
  • Pulse Amplitude
  • Sexual Arousal