Attachment and Sexual Functioning: Understanding the Mediating Role of Body Image Among LGB and Non-LGB Women

Ateret Gewirtz-Meydan, Kimberly J. Mitchell, Zohar Spivak-Lavi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Despite studies showing that individuals with insecure attachment suffer from poor body image, and that poor body image is a main risk factor for sexual dysfunction, the mediating role of body image between attachment insecurities and sexual functioning has not been assessed. Moreover, differences in body self-consciousness among sexual minority women have not been examined, even though LGB individuals have been found to be more conscious of stigma and the disapproval of others. Aim: To fill this gap, the current study examines the mediating role of body image self-consciousness between insecure attachment and sexual functioning among LGB and non-LGB women. Methods: The study sample consisted of 1,001 women; of them, 808 defined themselves as heterosexual (80.7%), and 193 (19.3%) identified as LGB. The sample was a convenience sample of women who responded to ads on social media. Participants completed an online questionnaire (via Qualtrics) about their attachment orientation, body-image self-consciousness, and sexual functioning. Main Outcome: Body image self-consciousness mediated the relationship between insecure attachment and sexual dysfunction among women in general and LGB women in particular. Results: Results indicated that among LGB women, the relationship between attachment and sexual functioning was fully mediated by body image self-consciousness. For non-LGB women, a full model with statistically significant direct and indirect effects was revealed. Both avoidant attachment and anxious attachment were related to body image self-consciousness which was, in turn, related to sexual functioning. A statistically significant direct path from avoidant attachment to sexual functioning was also revealed. Conclusion: The study findings contribute to the literature by revealing the mediating role that body image self-consciousness plays between insecure attachment and sexual dysfunction among women in general and LGB women in particular. Clinical Implications: This study provides support for the negative relationship between body image self-consciousness and sexual functioning of women regardless of sexual orientation, and suggests that women affected by body image concerns might be prone to more sexual dysfunction. Therefore, body image self-consciousness should be brought up in sex therapy sessions and future interventions. Clinicians should also be cognizant of differences between LGB and non-LGB women in terms of this effect, taking into account the history of stigma that LGB women may have endured and how this history affects their body image. Gewirtz-Meydan A, Mitchell KJ, Spivak-Lavi Z. Attachment and Sexual Functioning: Understanding the Mediating Role of Body Image Among LGB and Non-LGB Women. J Sex Med 2021;18:1245–1257.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1245-1257
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Volume18
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This project was supported by the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College at Emek Yezreel (Grant Number EMEK YVC 2020-14).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 International Society for Sexual Medicine

Keywords

  • Attachment
  • Body Image Self-Consciousness
  • LGB
  • Sexual Function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Urology

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