Unlike men, heterosexual women's genital arousal is gender nonspecific, such that heterosexual women show relatively similar genital arousal to sexual stimuli depicting men and women but typically report greater subjective arousal to male stimuli. Based on the ovulatory-shift hypothesis-that women show a mid-cycle shift in preferences towards more masculine features during peak fertility-we predicted that heterosexual women's genital and subjective arousal would be gender specific (more arousal towards male stimuli) during peak fertility. Twenty-two naturally-cycling heterosexual women were assessed during the follicular and luteal phases of their menstrual cycle to examine the role of menstrual cycle phase in gender specificity of genital and subjective sexual arousal. Menstrual cycle phase was confirmed with salivary hormone assays; phase at the time of first testing was counterbalanced. Women's genital and subjective sexual arousal patterns were gender nonspecific, irrespective of cycle phase. Cycle phase at first testing session did not influence genital or subjective arousal in the second testing session. Similar to previous research, women's genital and subjective sexual arousal varied with cues of sexual activity, but neither genital nor subjective sexual arousal varied by gender cues, with the exception of masturbation stimuli, where women showed higher genital arousal to the stimuli depicting male compared to female actors. These data suggest that menstrual cycle phase does not influence the gender specificity of heterosexual women's genital and subjective sexual arousal.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- General Psychology