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J Sex Marital Ther. 2006 Jan-Feb;32(1):5-22.

Psychophysiological sexual arousal in women with a history of child sexual abuse.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, 78712, USA.


On the basis of literature that suggests that child sexual abuse (CSA) survivors with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have higher baseline sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity than healthy controls and research that suggests that the SNS plays a critical role in female physiological sexual arousal, we examined the impact of SNS activation through intense exercise on sexual arousal in women with CSA and PTSD. We measured physiological and subjective sexual arousal in women with CSA (n = 8), women with CSA and PTSD (n = 10), and healthy controls (n = 10) during exposure to nonerotic and erotic videos. After exercise, women with CSA and women with CSA and PTSD showed no significant differences in the physiological sexual response compared with no exercise, which was different from the increased physiological sexual response after exercise observed in control women.

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