Characteristics of Genital Dissatisfaction Among a Nationally Representative Sample of U.S. Women

Tami S. Rowen, Thomas W. Gaither, Alan W. Shindel, Benjamin N. Breyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Female genital self-image is an important aspect of psychosocial and sexual health. The Female Genital Self-Image Scale (FGSIS) is a validated instrument that has been used to characterize women's level of genital dissatisfaction. Aim: In this report, we assess genital dissatisfaction using the FGSIS in a nationally representative sample of U.S. women. Methods: We conducted a nationally representative survey of non-institutionalized adults aged 18–65 years residing in the United States. The survey included questions about demographics, sexual behavior, and the FGSIS. Outcomes: Demographic characteristics were found to significantly correlate to women's perceived genital dissatisfaction. Results: In total, 3,372 women completed the survey and 3,143 (93.2%) completed the FGSIS. The mean age was 46 years, and there was broad representation across the United States in terms of age, education, and location. On bivariate analysis, women's genital dissatisfaction was significantly correlated to their age, race, location, and education. Women who were sexually active were less likely to report genital dissatisfaction than women who were not sexually active (76% vs 62%, respectively, P <.001). The frequency of sexual activity was negatively correlated with genital dissatisfaction (P =.002). Women who reported genital dissatisfaction were less likely than those who reported satisfaction to engage in receptive vaginal sex (83% vs 88%, respectively, P =.03). There were no other significant associations between genital dissatisfaction and types of sexual activity. On multivariate analysis, women were less likely to report genital dissatisfaction if they were older, of black race, had an education level of high school or above, and/or lived in the Northeastern or Midwestern United States. There was no association between genital dissatisfaction and relationship status or gender of sexual partner. Clinical Translation: Female genital dissatisfaction may be related to age, race, education, and geography. Conclusions: This is the first nationally representative sample of U.S. women focusing on genital and self-image and dissatisfaction. These data may not apply outside the United States. These data may help providers who provide information for women and manage concerns related to genital self-image. Rowen TS, Gaither TW, Shindel AW, et al. Characteristics of Genital Dissatisfaction Among a Nationally Representative Sample of U.S. Women. J Sex Med 2018;15:698–704.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)698-704
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2018


  • Cosmetics
  • Genitals
  • Sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Urology


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