Cycles of shame: menstrual shame, body shame, and sexual decision-making

Schooler, D.; Ward, L.Monique.; Merriwether, A.; Caruthers, A.S.

Journal of Sex Research 42(4): 324-334


ISSN/ISBN: 0022-4499
PMID: 19827237
DOI: 10.1080/00224490509552288
Document Number: 261966
Although numerous factors have been implicated in women's sexual decision-making, less attention has been focused on how their feelings about their bodies and reproductive functions affect these processes. Recent findings link menstrual shame to lower levels of sexual activity and higher levels of sexual risk; however the mechanisms behind these relations remain unexplored. Accordingly, this study investigates the contributions of menstrual shame and global body shame to sexual decision-making among 199 undergraduate women. Using structural equation modeling, we evaluated a mediated model, whereby menstrual shame is indirectly associated with sexual decision-making via body shame. As expected, women who reported feeling more comfort about menstruation also reported more body comfort and, in turn, more sexual assertiveness, more sexual experience, and less sexual risk.

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