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Author Notes:

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Heather Rupp, The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, Indiana University, Morrison Hall 313, Bloomington, Indiana 47405; hrupp@indiana.edu; Phone: 812-856-0009; Fax: 812-855-8277.



  • Adult
  • Contraceptives, Oral
  • Erotica
  • Estrogens
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menstrual Cycle
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Perception
  • Young Adult

Women's interest in visual sexual stimuli varies with menstrual cycle phase at first exposure and predicts later interest


Journal Title:

Hormones and Behavior


Volume 57, Number 2


, Pages 263-268

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


This study investigated whether women's interest in visual sexual stimuli varied with their hormonal state. Viewing times of 30 women, 15 normal cycling (NC) and 15 oral contracepting (OC), to sexually explicit photos were measured at three different times. NC women were tested during their menstrual, periovulatory, and luteal phases, and OC women were tested at equivalent temporal intervals. Subjects viewed stimuli as long as desired, thus viewing time measured subject interest. Subjective ratings of stimulus sexual attractiveness were obtained on each test. There was no overall relationship between menstrual cycle phase and viewing time. However the participant's menstrual cycle phase during first exposure to sexual stimuli predicted subsequent interest in sexual stimuli during the next two tests. NC women who first viewed stimuli during their periovulatory phase looked longer at the sexual stimuli across all sessions than did women first tested in their luteal phase. OC women first exposed to the sexual stimuli during menstruation looked longer at the stimuli across all sessions than did OC women first exposed at other test phases. Neither current test phase nor initial cycle phase influenced subjective ratings. Women had increased interest in sexual stimuli across all sessions if first exposed to sexual stimuli when endogenous estrogens were most likely highest. These data suggest that women's interest in visual sexual stimuli is modulated by hormones such that the hormonal condition at first exposure possibly determines the stimuli's emotional valence, markedly affecting subsequent interest in sexual stimuli.

Copyright information:

© 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

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