Body image and sexual functioning in women by University of Luxembourg

Nowadays, many women may feel under societal pressure to have an ideal and sexually attractive body. The trend of being thin and slender is omnipresent and can be encountered in everyday life and in the mass media, e.g. in movies or magazines. Negative attitudes toward one’s body may lead to feelings of shame and embarrassment when the body is exposed during sexual activities. As a consequence many women avoid sexual contacts and become dissatisfied with their sex life.

Sexual dysfunctions and body image dissatisfaction in women are increasing, with prevalence rates being currently estimated at 50% and 38%, respectively. The potential societal and health costs are considerable, as a negative body image is considered an important risk factor for the development and maintenance of eating disorders, and sexual dysfunctions can negatively impact overall well-being.

Previous research has examined body image dissatisfaction and sexual functioning separately, but research linking these two areas is missing. The present project fills this gap by contrasting responses to pictures related to body image dissatisfaction (images of one’s own body) with erotic pictures in women with various levels of body and sexual dissatisfaction.

In the present study, we would like to investigate the relationship between body image and sexual functioning in women, in particular how body– and sexually–relevant stimuli are perceived and valued. The expected results will be important to help us understand better the role of body image and sexual functioning in the development and /or maintenance of body dissatisfaction and sexual dysfunction, and their potential interaction.

With the results of this study we hope to gain a better understanding of the links between a negative body image and sexual dysfunction. The results will help to improve existing treatments for women who are dissatisfied with their bodies and, therefore, have problems with their sex life.

Participation in the study includes two appointments. On the first day (3h) a detailed diagnostic interview will be conducted and a photo of the full body (without the head) is taken. During the second appointment (2h) participants are asked to passively view photos of their own body and those of others, and also erotic pictures on a computer screen while eye movements are monitored. Additionally, participants are asked to watch an erotic video clip while their general arousal (heart rate and sweating on your palm) is measured.

We are looking for female participants aged 18-45 who speak English, French, or German.

As a compensation participants receives €50, in the form of a Sodexo gift voucher.


Contact point

Agnieszka Czeluscinska-Peczkowska, M.Sc. (

Research Unit INSIDE, Institute for Health and Behaviour, Research Group Self-Regulation and Health (Prof. Dr. Claus Vögele)


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