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The association of body dissatisfaction with sexual distress in pregnant and non pregnant women: testing a mediation model

Pascoal, PM1; Rosa, PJ1Coelho, S.1

1: Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, Portugal

Objective(s): Pregnancy is characterized by physical, hormonal, and psychological changes that can affect women’s sexuality and for those who are in a dyadic relationship, it also affects the couple’s sexual relationship. This study aims at examining whether the effect of body dissatisfaction on sexual distress is mediated by cognitive distraction with the appearance of the body and to test a moderated mediation model of the impact of body dissatisfaction on sexual distress, using pregnancy as the moderating factor.

Material and Method(s): Participants are a sample of 87 cisgendered heterosexual women (50.6% pregnant; n =44), aged between 25 and 40 years old (M = 31.93; SD = 3.46) involved in an exclusive and committed dyadic relationship. Participants filled up a Web-based questionnaire consisting of a validated general measure of body dissatisfaction (Global Body Dissatisfaction Scale), sexual distress (adapted from the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles) and cognitive distraction based on body appearance during sexual activity (Body Appearance Cognitive Distraction Scale).

Result(s): Results indicated a significant positive, indirect effect between body dissatisfaction and sexual distress through cognitive distraction, revealing a full mediation with a medium effect size. No moderating effect of the pregnancy status with any of the paths in the model was found.

Conclusion(s): This study advances our understanding of sexuality during pregnancy by evaluating sexual distress. As such, the data provide a more accurate picture on the sexual distress that women experience during pregnancy in relation to body dissatisfaction, highlighting that pregnancy is not a protective factor for the experience of the impact of body dissatisfaction on sexual distress.


Work supported by industry: no.

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