3 years ago

Body Esteem as a Common Factor of a Tendency Toward Binge Eating and Sexual Dissatisfaction Among Women: The Role of Dissociation and Stress Response During Sex

Several studies have suggested a relevant overlap between eating disorders and sexual dysfunction involving the emotional component of body image esteem and dissociative experiences. Aim To evaluate the common maintaining factors of sexual dysfunction and vulnerability to pathologic eating behaviors and their relation to a physiologic stress response. Methods In the present cross-sectional study, we evaluated a non-clinical sample of 60 heterosexual women (25–35 years old) for dissociation during sex with a partner, body image disturbance, and tendency toward pathologic eating behaviors. We also evaluated the stress-induced hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activation in response to a sexual stimulus and its association with binge eating and dissociation. Outcomes Participants completed the Clinician-Administered Dissociative States Scale, the Sexual Satisfaction Scale–Women, the Body Esteem Scale for Adolescents and Adults, and the Eating Attitudes Test Short Version. Furthermore, we assessed cortisol levels before, during, and after exposure to explicit sexual stimuli shown within a laboratory setting. Results Dysfunctional body image esteem and a tendency toward binge-eating behaviors were associated with greater sexual distress in women. In particular, body esteem was significantly associated with greater dissociation during sex with a partner. Moreover, women who reported greater dissociation during sex with a partner and a tendency toward binge-eating behaviors showed higher levels of cortisol in response to sexual stimuli. Clinical Implications These results support further research based on trans-diagnostic treatments targeted to dissociation and body image esteem, which could lessen sexual dysfunction and vulnerability to pathologic eating behaviors. Strengths and Limitations Despite the small sample and self-reported questionnaires, this is the first study to consider the association of the stress response during sexual stimuli with sexual distress and with pathologic eating behaviors adopting a dimensional approach. Conclusion Body uneasiness and dissociation represented factors underlying pathologic eating behaviors and sexual dysfunction. Women reporting a tendency toward binge-eating episodes and dissociation during sexual experiences represented a subpopulation with a higher stress response during sexual stimuli. Castellini G, Lo Sauro C, Ricca V, Rellini AH. Body Esteem as a Common Factor of a Tendency Toward Binge Eating and Sexual Dissatisfaction Among Women: The Role of Dissociation and Stress Response During Sex. J Sex Med 2017;14:1036–1045.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S1743609517312675

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