Associations Between Personality Disorder Characteristics, Psychological Symptoms, and Sexual Functioning in Young Women

Andrea Grauvogl*, Britt Pelzer, Veerle Radder, Jacques van Lankveld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: Recently, the etiology of sexual dysfunctions in women has been approached from different angles. In clinical practice and in previous studies, it has been observed that women with sexual problems experience anxiety problems and express more rigid and perfectionistic personality traits than women without these problems. Aim: To investigate whether personality disorder characteristics according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) and psychological symptoms are associated with sexual problems in women. Methods: 188 women 18 to 25 years old participated in this cross-sectional study. Questionnaires measuring sexual functioning (Female Sexual Function Index), personality disorder characteristics (Assessment of DSM-IV-TR Personality Disorders Questionnaire), and psychological symptoms (Brief Symptom Inventory and Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale) were used. Outcome: The main outcome measure used was sexual functioning assessed by self-report. Results: Results, using analysis of variance, indicated that women with sexual problems report significantly more cluster A (specifically schizoid) and C (specifically avoidant and obsessive-compulsive) personality disorder characteristics than women without sexual problems. Furthermore, using multiple regression analyses, higher cluster A (specifically schizoid) and lower cluster B (specifically borderline and antisocial) personality disorder characteristics indicated lower levels of sexual functioning. Psychological symptoms partly mediated the effect of cluster A personality disorder characteristics on sexual functioning. Clinical Implications: The results of this study indicate that clinical practice should extend its scope by focusing more on improving adaptive personality characteristics, such as extraversion and individualism seen in cluster B personality characteristics, and decreasing the perfectionistic, introvert, and self-doubting characteristics seen in cluster C personality characteristics. Strengths and Limitations: Because of the correlational design and use of self-report measures, causal relations cannot be established between personality disorder characteristics and sexual functioning. Conclusion: Overall, the results indicate that personality disorder characteristics can play an important associative role in the development and maintenance of sexual functioning problems in women. Copyright (C) 2017, International Society for Sexual Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-200
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of sexual medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Personality Disorder Characteristics
  • Psychological Symptoms
  • Sexual Functioning
  • Young Women

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