Factors affecting sexual-self esteem among young adult women in long-term heterosexual relationships

Heinrichs, Kristelle D.; MacKnee, Chuck; Auton-Cuff, Faith; Domene, José F.
December 2009
Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality;2009, Vol. 18 Issue 4, p183
Academic Journal
The topic of sexual self-esteem has been widely addressed in the literature on female sexuality but few studies have addressed the factors that facilitate or hinder women's sense of sexual self-esteem. Based on previously reported definitions of sexual self-esteem, the present study employed semi-structured interviews with 17 women aged 24-39 years in long-term heterosexual relationships (5-20 years) to identify incidents and factors that had a negative or positive impact on their current levels of sexual self-esteem. Analysis of the interviews using Critical Incident Technique identified 301 incidents of which 131 facilitated and 170 hindered sexual self-esteem. The incidents were sorted into 31 categories (14 facilitating, 17 hindering) which in turn yielded six emergent themes that characterized sexual self-esteem in relation to: husbands, boyfriends, and other males; women's bodies; self- empowerment; damaging experiences and learning; interference of life stressors and sexual scripting; and the topic of sex and engagement in sexual activity. The findings indicate that women's sexual self- esteem is impacted by many bio-psychosocial factors that should be approached holistically in counselling, therapy and education.


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