Disgust dampens women’s sexual arousal more than fear

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What’s more of a passion killer than fear? Well, for women it’s being disgusted.

In a recent study, researchers from the University of Portsmouth compared how sexually aroused women were after being exposed to negative stimuli. Results showed that more disgusted a woman was, the less sexually aroused she was likely to be.

Why disgust?

Disgust is thought to be a protective emotion because it encourages humans to shun anything which could transmit disease, such as another person’s blood or body fluids.

Dr Fleischman, an evolutionary psychologist, told ScienceDaily.com: “Sex includes increased contact with body odours and fluids which, in other contexts, strongly suggest disease and would elicit disgust. Women are more vulnerable to contracting diseases through sex than men and show worse outcomes once infected so we should expect that women will be especially turned off when they are disgusted.”

The study included heterosexual women aged 18-42. Images used to elicit disgust in the women taking part included diseased or injured humans and human corpses, feces and people vomiting. Before the experiments, all the women were asked to insert a vaginal photoplethysmograph — a clear acrylic tampon-shaped device that measures blood flow to the vagina which indicates sexual arousal.

In earlier studies, researchers found sexually aroused men were less likely to find things disgusting. Researchers attribute why women are more sensitive to feelings of disgust to how sex includes contact with body odours and fluis which, in other contexts, strongly suggest disease.

 

Journal Reference:

Diana S. Fleischman, Lisa Dawn Hamilton, Daniel M. T. Fessler, Cindy M. Meston. Disgust versus Lust: Exploring the Interactions of Disgust and Fear with Sexual Arousal in Women. PLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (6): e0118151 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118151

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