The relationship between gender role and attitude toward menstruation with female sexual function: A cross-sectional study


Background: Although female sexual function can be affected by many psychological, interpersonal, and sociocultural factors, limited studies have focused on the relationships between this construct with some concepts such as women’s attitudes toward menstruation and perception from their gender role.

Objective: To investigate the association between gender roles and attitude toward menstruation with sexual function among Iranian reproductive women.

Materials and Methods: An observational cross-sectional study was carried out on a group of 164 Iranian women referred to the health centers of Torbat Heydariyeh, between August and December 2018. All eligible women filled the female sexual function index (FSFI), Bem Sex Role Inventory, and Menstrual Attitude Questionnaire.

Results: The result showed that the total FSFI score was significantly higher in masculine and androgynous gender role groups than women with undifferentiated gender role (p = 0.014, and p = 0.012, respectively). Nevertheless, androgynous women had better sexual arousal than undifferentiated women (p = 0.013). Significant reverse correlations were observed between the perception of menstruation as a debilitating, bothersome, and predictable event with a total score of FSFI and all subscales except lubrication (p = 0.001). In contrast, there was a positive relationship between denial of any effects of menstruation with total FSFI and all its sub-scores except lubrication (p = 0.001).

Conclusion: This study highlighted the role of masculinity and androgyny gender role stereotypes and menstrual attitude in the sexual function of heterosexual women. Future studies are needed to explain how these psychological contexts contribute to different aspects of women’s sexuality.

Key words: Menstruation, Gender roles, Sexual behavior.

[1] Jiannine LM. An investigation of the relationship between physical fitness, self-concept, and sexual functioning. J Educ Health Promot 2018; 7: 57–61.

[2] Tosun Guleroglu F, Gordeles Beser N. Evaluation of sexual functions of the pregnant women. J Sex Med 2014; 11: 146– 153.

[3] Zhou Y, Li C, Jin F, Shao H, Teng Y, Tao M. Prevalence and predictors of sexual function in midlife partnered Chinese women assessed by two simple indicators: Sexual frequency and sexual desire. J Obstet Gynaecol Res 2019; 45: 210–216.

[4] Rempel JK, Baumgartner B. The relationship between attitudes towards menstruation and sexual attitudes, desires, and behavior in women. Arch Sex Behav 2003; 32: 155–163.

[5] Çevirme AS, Çevirme H, Karaoğlu L, Ugurlu N, Korkamaz Y. The perception of menarche and menstruation among Turkish married women: Attitudes, experiences, and behaviors. Soc Behav Personal 2010; 38: 381–394.

[6] Özdemir Şahin FN. Evaluation of menstural attitude of collegiate athletes. Life Science Journal 2013; 10: 295– 300.

[7] Mohamadirizi S, Kordi M, Shakeri MT. [The relationship between perimenstrual symptoms and menstrual attitude in high-school girls in Mashhad city in years 2011-2012]. Iran J Obstet Gynecol Infertil 2012; 15: 25–31. (in Persian)

[8] Anjum F, Zehra N, Haider G, Rani S, Siddique AA, Munir AA. Attitude towards menstruation among young women. Pak J Med Sci 2010; 26: 619–622.

[9] Mazokopakis EE, Samonis G. Is vaginal sexual intercourse permitted during menstruation? A biblical (christian) and medical approach. Maedica 2018; 13: 183–188.

[10] Lorenz TK, Demas GE, Heiman JR. Interaction of menstrual cycle phase and sexual activity predicts mucosal and systemic humoral immunity in healthy women. Physiol Behav 2015; 152: 92–98.

[11] Kiefer AK, Sanchez DT. Scripting sexual passivity: A gender role perspective. Personal Relationships 2007; 14: 269–290.

[12] Burke PJ, Stets JE, Pirog-Good MA. Gender identity, self-esteem, and physical and sexual abuse in dating relationships. Social Psychology Quarterly 1988;51: 272– 285.

[13] Azmoude E, Firoozi M, Sadeghi Sahebzad E, Asgharipour N. Relationship between gender roles and sexual assertiveness in married women. Int J Commun Based Nurs Midwife 2016; 4: 363–373.

[14] Rosen R, Brown C, Heiman J, Leiblum S, Meston C, Shabsigh R, et al. The female sexual function index (FSFI): a multidimensional self-report instrument for the assessment of female sexual function. J Sex Marital Ther 2000; 26: 191–208.

[15] Fakhri A, Pakpour AH, Burri A, Morshedi H, Mohammadi Zeidi I. The female sexual function index: translation and validation of an Iranian version. J Sex Med 2012; 9: 514– 523.

[16] Bem SL. The measurement of psychological androgyny. J Consult Clin Psychol 1974; 42: 155–162.

[17] Alavi K, Jalali Nodushan AH, Eftekhar M. Masculine and feminine gender roles in healthy Iranian population according to two different constructs: Bem sex role inventory vs. GM and GF scales of MMPI-2. Iran J Psychiatr Clin Psychol 2014; 20: 121–133.

[18] Brooks-Gunn J, Ruble DN. The menstrual attitude questionnaire. Psychosom Med 1980; 42: 503–512.

[19] Lettenberger CG. The effect of gender roles on sexual assertiveness, engagement in sexual activity, and sexual satisfaction in heterosexual couples [M.Sc. Thesis]. Indiana: Purdue University; 2011.

[20] Simon W, Gagnon JH. Sexual scripts: Origins, influences and changes. Qualitative Sociol 2003; 26: 491–497.

[21] Fischer JL, University TT, Narus Jr LR. Sex roles and intimacy in same sex and other sex relationships. Psychol Women Quarter 1981; 5: 444–455.

[22] Safir MP, Peres Y, Lichtenstein M, Hoch Z, Shepher J. Psychological androgyny and sexual adequacy. J Sex Marital Ther 1982; 8: 228–240.

[23] Snow LJ, Parsons JL. Sex role orientation and female sexual functioning. Psychol Women Quarter 1983; 8: 133– 143.

[24] Bem SL. Gender schema theory: A cognitive account of sex typing. Psychol Rev 1981; 88: 354–364.

[25] Walfish S, Myerson M. Sex role identity and attitudes toward sexuality. Arch Sex Behav 1980; 9: 199–203.

[26] Helmreich RL, Spence JT, Holahan CK. Psychological androgyny and sex role flexibility: A test of two hypotheses. J Personal Soc Psychol 1979; 37: 1631– 1644.

[27] Dedovic K, Wadiwalla M, Engert V, Pruessner JC. The role of sex and gender socialization in stress reactivity. Dev Psychol 2009; 45: 45–55.

[28] Arbanas G, Maroevic S, Bolcic F, Musica T, Jerkovic I. 696 Gender roles and sexual functioning in people of different sexual orientations. J Sex Med 2018; 15: S397.

[29] Kurpisz J, Mak M, Lew-Starowicz M, Nowosielski K, Bienkowski P, Kowalczyk R, et al. Personality traits, gender roles and sexual behaviours of young adult males. Ann Gen Psychiatry 2016; 15: 28–42.

[30] Spencer SL, Zeiss AM. Sex roles and sexual dysfunction in college students. J Sex Res 1987; 23: 338–347.

[31] Schooler D, Ward LM, Merriwether A, Caruthers AS. Cycles of shame: menstrual shame, body shame, and sexual decision-making. J Sex Res 2005; 42: 324–334.