Sexual satisfaction and body image: differences according to sexual orientation

Sexual satisfaction and body image: differences according to sexual orientation

A recently published Frontiers in Psychology article focused on investigating the differences between heterosexual, bisexual and homosexuals in sexual satisfaction linked to body image (Moreno-Domìniguez et al., 2019).


There are numerous studies in the literature that show how much women suffer the pressure of having a perfect body that falls within the standards imposed by society (eg Wade and DiMaria, 2003); this naturally has repercussions on self-esteem and the low satisfaction which, at present, has been mainly investigated in heterosexual women (Rodin et al., 1984). However, the amount of studies relating to the differences between heterosexual women and homosexual women is not yet sufficient to underline the differences in body image between the two groups: in fact, some studies show that there are no significant differences (eg Yean et al., 2013), while others affirm that homosexual women suffer less from the weight of social judgment regarding their own body (e.g. Leavy et al., 2012).

This contradiction could be due to the fact that homosexual women have always been considered as a homogeneous group and the differences existing between individuals have not been properly analyzed: homosexual women who showed more ‘typically female’ traits, as research suggests by Henrichs-Beck and Szumanski (2017) had more chances of suffering from a negative body image than those with more ‘masculine’ features.

One explanation why heterosexual women may experience more social pressure than their body shape is the frequent sexual objectification they are victims of, usually more often than homosexual women (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997).

The results of the literature also suggest that the more dissatisfied a woman is with her body, the more likely she is to be sexually unsatisfied. Again, however, scholars have focused mainly on heterosexual samples and the few studies on women belonging to sexual minorities have excluded bisexual women (Henderson et al., 2009).

The present study (Moreno-Domìniguez et al., 2019) aimed to investigate how much the body image was related to the sexual dissatisfaction experienced by bisexual, homosexual and heterosexual women: the aim was to determine whether the dissatisfaction body was able to predict sexual dissatisfaction and if there were differences in sexual orientation. The authors’ hypothesis was that bisexual women suffered less dissatisfaction with their bodies than heterosexual and homosexual women in the second place.

Through an online questionnaire, 354 women, 156 heterosexuals, 79 bisexuals and 78 homosexuals were recruited. Demographic variables, the average frequency of sexual intercourse, body weight and questions regarding the satisfaction of one’s body were taken into consideration.

The results showed that there were no statistically significant differences regarding sexual satisfaction in the three groups or satisfaction with one’s own body. However, concerns about body shape had a greater influence on sexual satisfaction for heterosexual and bisexual women than homosexual women.