Propensity to Sexual Response among Adults with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health 30 Sept 2019 LETTER DOI: 10.2174/1745017901915010126



Propensity to sexual excitation and inhibition is one of the key dimensions of sexuality. Clinicians working with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) patients rarely assess this and other aspects of sexuality, since treatment targets generally symptom reduction. Literature on sexual functioning in OCD patients is scarce and no study has focused on symptom subtypes, nor investigated the psychological processes related to sexual response.


In the present short report, we describe an exploratory study investigating the association between symptom subtypes and propensity towards sexual excitation/inhibition in OCD patients, controlling for gender, age and antidepressant treatment.


Seventy-two OCD patients (mean age = 34.50 years, 37.50% women) completed the Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory-Revised and the Sexual Inhibition/Sexual Excitation Scales.


Patients with more severe compulsive washing habit had a lower propensity towards excitation and a higher one towards inhibition due to threat of performance consequences (i.e., contamination with sexually transmitted diseases/having an unwanted pregnancy). Patients with more severe symptoms of checking showed a higher propensity towards inhibition due to the threat of performance consequences. Gender, age and antidepressant treatment were not related to sexual functioning.


Specific OCD symptom subtypes may be associated with some psychological processes involved in sexual response. Sexual well-being should be carefully evaluated by practitioners and should be regarded as a treatment target. Future studies should investigate more comprehensively the processes involved in sexuality.

Keywords: Sexual functioning, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, Washing, Checking, Antidepressants, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, Symptom subtypes, Sexual therapy.
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