Sexual Responsivity and the Effects of Negative Mood on Sexual Arousal in Hypersexual Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM)

Erick Janssen, Nicole Prause, Rebecca Swinburne Romine, Nancy Raymond, Angus MacDonald, Eli Coleman, Michael H. Miner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: A number of studies have found that hypersexuality is associated with a high propensity for sexual excitation. In comparison, less is known about the relationship between hypersexuality and sexual arousal at the state level. Also, previous research has revealed a relationship between hypersexuality and negative mood. However, the possibility that sexual response might not be as negatively impacted by negative mood in hypersexual individuals has, as yet, not been tested. Aim: The purpose of this study was to investigate sexual responsivity and the effects of negative mood on sexual arousal in hypersexual men who have sex with men (MSM). Methods: A total of 211 MSM were assigned to a hypersexuality (N = 81) or a control (N = 130) group using an interview patterned with a semi-structured Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders format. Participants filled out questionnaires and were shown neutral, sexual, and anxiety- and sadness-inducing films. Outcomes: Changes in penile circumference and self-reported sexual arousal were the primary outcomes analyzed in this study. Results: Controlling for age and HIV status, no differences were found in genital response between hypersexual and non-hypersexual men. Also, the 2 groups did not differ in subjective sexual arousal. Moreover, no effects of negative mood were found. Time series clustering analyses revealed 3 groups—low responders and slow and fast high responders. Sexual excitation, but not sexual compulsivity or pornography use, predicted cluster membership. Clinical Translation: Hypersexual MSM may benefit more from an exploration of motivational and behavioral, as compared to psychophysiological, mechanisms underlying possible links between (negative) mood and sexual behavior. Strengths & Limitations: Strengths of the study include its sample size, making it one of the larger psychophysiological sex studies; the use of clinical interviews for group assignment; the inclusion of genital response measures; and the application of time series clustering to examine differences among participants. Limitations include possible sample heterogeneity and the reliance on researcher-selected stimuli. Conclusion: Given the lack of any effects of negative mood on sexual response in hypersexual MSM, future studies could explore in more depth possible motivational and behavioral effects, including, for example, the impact of negative mood on the tendency to seek out sex as a form of distraction or for validation or emotional support. Janssen E, Prause N, Romine RS, et al. Sexual Responsivity and the Effects of Negative Mood on Sexual Arousal in Hypersexual Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM). J Sex Med 2020;17:1751–1760.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1751-1760
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health , Award Number R01MH094229 , M. Miner (principal investigator). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 International Society for Sexual Medicine


  • Hypersexuality
  • MSM
  • Negative Mood
  • Psychophysiology
  • Sexual Arousal


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