Please Sign In or Create an account
Cognitive-Affective Dimensions in Distressing Sexual Problems: Clinical Implications for Gay Men and Lesbian Women

Cognitive-Affective Dimensions in Distressing Sexual Problems: Clinical Implications for Gay Men and Lesbian Women

Cognitive-affective approaches are highlighted in the conceptualization of sexual dysfunctions. However, empirical studies are almost exclusively based on heterosexual samples. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the role of cognitive-affective variable in homosexual and heterosexual men and women, with or without distressing sexual problems.

Methods: An online sample with 1194 men (585 gay men and 609 heterosexual men) and 1836 women (506 lesbian women and 1330 heterosexual women) completed self-reported measures concerning distressing sexual problems, dysfunctional sexual beliefs, cognitive schemas activated in sexual context, automatic thoughts and affective states during sexual activity. Socio-demographically matched groups of heterosexual and homosexual men and women, with or without distressing sexual problems were used to compare through MANOVAS, the main differences in the psychological dimensions.

Results: Main findings indicated that men and women with distressing sexual problems, regardless of sexual orientation, endorsed significantly more dysfunctional sexual beliefs (except in the female sample), activated more negative cognitive schemas in sexual context, reported more negative automatic thoughts, higher levels of negative affect and lower levels of positive affect during sexual activity. More specifically, gay men reported more dysfunctional sexual beliefs related to sex as an abuse of the partner, and less erotic thoughts during sexual activity, compared to heterosexual men. Lesbian women referred to more dysfunctional sexual beliefs, activated more cognitive schemas in sexual context, and reported higher levels of positive affect during sexual activity, compared to heterosexual women.

Conclusions: Overall, the current study suggested some specificity, but also some similarities on cognitive and affective variables in men and women with distressing sexual problems, regardless of sexual orientation. The findings have significant implications for the development of evidence-based intervention protocols adapted for gay men and lesbian women.

Conference: WAS Singapore 2015