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Keywords:

  • Female Genital Self-Image;
  • Female Sexual Function;
  • Vulva;
  • Vagina;
  • Genital Self-Examination

ABSTRACT

Introduction.  Over the past two decades, an expanding body of research has examined women's and men's genital self-image. Support for the reliability and validity of the 7-item Female Genital Self-Image Scale (FGSIS) has been found in a convenience sample of women.

Aims.  The purpose of this study was to assess the reliability and validity of the FGSIS, its model of fit, and its association with women's scores on the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) in a nationally representative probability sample of women in the United States ages 18 to 60. A second purpose was to assess the temporal stability of the scale in a subset of this sample.

Methods.  A nationally representative sample of 3,800 women ages 18 to 60 were invited to participate in a cross-sectional Internet-based survey; 2,056 (54.1%) participated.

Main Outcome Measures.  Demographic items (e.g., age, race/ethnicity, marital status, sexual orientation, geographic region), having had a gynecological examination in the past year, having performed a genital self-examination in the past month, frequency of masturbation in the past month, vibrator use in the past month, the FGSIS, and the FSFI.

Results.  An abbreviated 4-item version of the scale, the FGSIS-4, was a better fit to the data than the original 7-item scale. Women's scores on the FGSIS-4 were significantly related to vibrator use, frequency of masturbation, having had a gynecological exam in the past year, having performed genital self examination in the past month, and all FSFI subscales.

Conclusion.  Most of the participants felt generally positively about their genitals and female genital self-image was significantly related to female sexual function, women's sexual behavior and their sexual and genital healthcare behaviors. In addition, the FGSIS-4 has evidence of reliability, validity, and temporal stability in a nationally representative probability sample of women in the United States. Herbenick D, Schick V, Reece M, Sanders S, Dodge B, and Fortenberry JD. The female genital self-image scale (FGSIS): Results from a nationally representative probability sample of women in the United States. J Sex Med 2011;8:158–166.