• Sexual Desire;
  • Gender Differences;
  • Psychopathology;
  • Relationship Adjustment;
  • Emotions;
  • Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder


Introduction.  Cultural, psychological, and biological factors specific to each gender are possibly responsible for discrepancies between male and female sexual desire.

Aim.  The aim of this study was to assess the differences between men and women regarding the role of emotional and relationship factors on sexual desire.

Methods.  Two hundred five men and 237 women from the general population answered a set of questionnaires assessing psychopathology, emotions during sexual activity, dyadic adjustment, and frequency of sexual desire. Multivariate analyses of covariance (demographic variables as covariates) were conducted in order to assess the differences of sexual desire (low/high desire) between genders and groups.

Main Outcome Measures.  Psychopathology measured by the Brief Symptom Inventory, emotions in sexual context measured by the Sexual Modes Questionnaire, dyadic adjustment measured by the Dyadic Adjustment Scale, and sexual desire measured by the sexual desire subscale of the Female Sexual Function Index and International Index of Erectile Function.

Results.  Findings indicated that women presented higher levels of psychopathology and significantly more emotions of hurt during sexual activity, while men presented more fear and shame in the same context. Results from dyadic adjustment showed that participants from the low desire group presented less dyadic adjustment. Moreover, participants from the low desire group presented more emotions of disillusion and participants from the high desire group presented more emotions of satisfaction.

Conclusions.  These findings suggest that therapeutic protocols for sexual desire difficulties should attend to dyadic adjustment and emotions during sexual activity, also considering how psychopathology and specific emotions act on sexual desire according to each gender. Carvalho J, and Nobre P. Gender issues and sexual desire: The role of emotional and relationship variables. J Sex Med 2010;7:2469–2478.