• Sad Mood;
  • Sexual Arousal;
  • Women;
  • Vaginal Photoplethysmography;
  • Happy Mood


Introduction.  In depressed women, common sexual difficulties include decreased sexual desire, sexual arousal and orgasmic difficulties, reduced sexual satisfaction, and reduced sexual pleasure. Experimental research on the influence of depressed mood on genital and subjective sexual arousal in women is scarce.

Aim.  To investigate the effects of sad mood on genital and subjective sexual arousal in sexually healthy women, using a mood induction procedure.

Method.  Thirty-two subjects received a sad mood and a happy mood induction, on two different days, using a within subjects design. The mood induction procedure was a combination of the Velten procedure and music. In the Velten procedure, the subject is asked to read sad or happy self-referent sentences and to experience the mood suggested by these sentences. Immediately following mood induction, the subjects were exposed to an erotic film clip.

Main Outcome Measure.  Genital arousal was assessed using vaginal photoplethysmography. Self-report ratings of sad and happy mood, subjective sexual arousal and affective reactions were collected before and after the erotic clip.

Results.  The sad and happy mood ratings indicated that the mood inductions affected mood as intended. No difference in genital sexual arousal was found between the sad and happy mood conditions. Subjects reported significantly less subjective sexual arousal and positive affect and marginally significant fewer genital sensations and more negative affect in the sad mood condition than in the happy mood condition.

Conclusions.  The results provide empirical support for the idea that mood can impact on subjective sexual arousal in women. ter Kuile MM, Both S, and van Uden J. The effects of experimentally-induced sad and happy mood on sexual arousal in sexually healthy women. J Sex Med 2010;7:1177–1184.