Pain sensitivity and individual differences in self-reported sexual behavior. Academic Article uri icon


  • The relationship between sexual behavior and pain sensitivity was assessed in 27 heterosexual men and 20 heterosexual women. Sexual behavior measures included sexual motivation and ratings of subjective sexual arousal to and enjoyment of an auditory stimulus. Pain sensitivity measures were pain threshold and pain tolerance in a cold pressor task. Participants were tested after exposure to a neutral or a sexual audio stimulus. Exposure to the sexual stimulus increased pain sensitivity in women but not in men. However, sexual behavior measures were correlated with pain threshold for both men and women. Specifically, higher pain thresholds were associated with weaker sexual motivation, lower enjoyment potential for sexual interaction, and increased inhibition during intercourse. These results are consistent with findings in laboratory animals, suggesting that differences in sexual behavior may reflect differences in responsiveness to a variety of stimuli.

published proceedings

  • J Comp Psychol

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • King, B. E., & Alexander, G. M

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • King, BE||Alexander, GM

publication date

  • June 2000