Low sexual desire is the most common sexual issue reported by women and research suggests that the presentation and experience of low sexual desire may vary considerably between women. This study explored whether women with low desire differ qualitatively from one another based on several key contextual factors theoretically associated with low desire. We collected data from women in long-term relationships (N = 508) using an online platform. Using latent profile analysis, we explored whether women could be distinguished from one another based on several contextual variables (sexual and relationship satisfaction, life stress, sexual communication). Results supported a 3-profile solution, with two distinct profiles emerging for women with low sexual desire. The first profile consisted of women with low desire who were dissatisfied with the sexual and nonsexual aspects of their relationships (Globally Distressed Group: 8%). The second profile consisted of women with low desire who were sexually, but not relationally, dissatisfied (Sexually Dissatisfied Group: 24%). In addition, a third profile emerged that consisted of generally satisfied women with average desire (Average Desire Group: 67%). t-tests revealed that the two low desire groups shared similar mean levels of sexual desire, but that their overall presentations were conceptually distinct. This research supports a categorical conceptualization of low sexual desire in women and suggests that evaluating category membership for women with low desire can provide valuable information about women’s sexual experiences beyond assessing mean levels of sexual desire alone.
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This research was supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada awarded to Uzma Rehman (435-2017-0311) and a Vanier scholarship awarded to Siobhan Sutherland.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This study was performed in line with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki. Approval was granted by a University of Waterloo Research Ethics Committee (#41380).
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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Sutherland, S.E., Rehman, U.S. & Goodnight, J.A. A Typology of Women with Low Sexual Desire. Arch Sex Behav 49, 2893–2905 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01805-9
- Low sexual desire
- Women’s sexuality
- Romantic relationships