Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)




Rebecca K. Blais


Jamison D. Fargo


Michael P. Twohig


Poor sexual function is comprised of diminished sexual desire and arousal, presence of sexual pain, inability to reach orgasm, and low satisfaction. Worse sexual function is associated with disordered eating behavior; however, the mechanism through which this association exists remains unclear. Theory of sexual function suggests that depression mediates the association of disordered eating behaviors and poor sexual function in female service members and veterans, but this has yet to be tested empirically. The purpose of the current study was to examine whether depression mediated the association of disordered eating behaviors and sexual dysfunction.

Participants (N=511) were partnered females who completed measures of sexual function, disordered eating behavior, depression severity, and demographic and military characteristics.

Nearly 60% reported probable sexual dysfunction, 19.6% reported probable eating disorder, and 44.4% reported probable depressive disorder. Higher depression symptoms were associated with lower sexual function (r=-.40, p<.001) and higher disordered eating behavior (r=.45, p<.001). Mediation analyses revealed that the association between disordered eating behavior and sexual function was indirect, through depression severity (indirect effect: -1.12, 95% confidence interval [-1.42, -0.85]).

Depression is a potential mechanism through which disordered eating behaviors are related to poor sexual function. Findings are congruent with sexual function theory, and underscore the importance of addressing depression when treating sexual function in those with disordered eating behavior.



Included in

Psychology Commons