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Investigating Associations Between Women's Interoceptive Awareness and Sexual Function

Sophia Frank, Kendall Poovey, and Dr. David de Jong, Department of Psychology, 1 University Way, Cullowhee, NC 28723

Approximately 41% of women are at risk for sexual dysfunction (Shaeer et. al, 2020). Recently, researchers have begun to examine how impaired interoception (i.e., the ability to recognize and process sensations in the body) may play an important role in poor sexual function. Impaired interoception may inhibit women’s ability to detect positive physical sensations during sex (i.e., sexual arousal), thereby inhibiting their sexual function. In support of this notion, Berenguer et al. (2019), found women with lower interoceptive awareness reported worse sexual function.  However, it is currently unknown how individual facets of interoceptive awareness may be related to the domains of sexual function (i.e., desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, pain, and satisfaction). Therefore, the goal of the current study is to investigate associations between the eight subscales of the Multidimensional Inventory of Interoceptive Awareness 2 (Mehling et al., 2018) and the domains of sexual function measured by the Female Sexual Function Index (Rosen et al., 2000). Women who are 18 years or older and have had sex in the past four weeks are being recruited for this online survey, via various social media platforms (e.g., Reddit, Facebook), to complete measures of interoceptive awareness in their everyday life and sexual function over the past four weeks. We will assess Pearson’s r correlations between sexual function and interoceptive awareness subscales, using SPSS v25.0. The results of this study will provide a clearer understanding of how facets of interoceptive awareness relate to women’s sexual function and may inform therapeutic approaches for working with women who struggle with sexual difficulties. Additionally, future research on this topic may be especially beneficial for clinical populations who tend to experience low interoceptive awareness and worse sexual function, such as women with anxiety, sensory processing disorders, and eating disorders.




Additional Abstract Information

Presenters: Sophia Frank, Kendall Poovey

Institution: Western Carolina University

Type: Poster

Subject: Psychology

Status: Approved


Time and Location

Session: Poster 11
Date/Time: Wed 3:00pm-4:00pm
Session Number: 7017