Sexual response in obsessive-compulsive disorder: The role of obsessive beliefs

Andrea Pozza, Donatella Marazziti, Federico Mucci, Nicole L. Angelo, Davide Prestia, Davide Dèttore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Sexual response in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) research and practice is overlooked. According to the Dual Control Model, satisfactory sexual response is based upon a balance of sexual excitation and inhibition. The assessment of sexual response in OCD may have clinical implications, such as the integration of sex therapy in psychotherapeutic intervention. The present study was aimed at comparing sexual excitation and inhibition levels between OCD patients and matched control subjects, and investigating whether obsessive beliefs might predict sexual excitation/inhibition. Methods: Seventy-two OCD patients (mean age ± SD: 34.50 ± 0.39 years) and 72 matched control subjects (mean age ± SD: 34.25 ± 10.18) were included (62.50% men and 37.50% women in both groups). The Obsessive Compulsive Inventory-Revised (OCI-R), the Obsessive Beliefs Questionnaire-46 (OBQ-46), and the Sexual Inhibition/Sexual Excitation Scales (SIS/SES) were administered. Results: OCD patients showed significantly higher levels of sexual excitation, inhibition due to threat of performance failure, and inhibition due to threat of performance consequences than the controls. In addition, the patients with more severe symptoms showed lower excitation than those with less severe symptoms, and those with higher perfectionism had stronger inhibition due to threat of performance failure than those with lower perfectionism. Conclusions: This is the first study exploring sexual response in OCD according to the Dual Control Model. Sexual response is an impaired quality of life outcome in OCD that should be assessed in routinary clinical practice. These findings support the importance of addressing specific obsessive beliefs to improve sexuality in OCD patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCNS Spectrums
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Excitation
  • Inhibition
  • Obsessive Beliefs
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Perfectionism
  • Sexual Arousal
  • Sexual Response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Sexual response in obsessive-compulsive disorder: The role of obsessive beliefs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this