Sexual function in adults with a history of childhood maltreatment: Mediating effects of self-reported autonomic reactivity.
Abstract: A growing body of literature documents sexual problems following maltreatment and traumatic experiences but the mechanisms of these effects are poorly understood. The autonomic nervous system coordinates typical and threat-reactive functions throughout the body, including reproductive organs. We examined whether relations between adult sexual function problems and childhood maltreatment history could be mediated by an autonomic nervous system retuned with a bias towards maintaining a physiological state that supports defensive strategies. Self-reported data on childhood physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, autonomic reactivity, and adult sexual function were collected from an online sample of US residents 18 years and older (189 males and 333 females). Mediation was tested using indirect effects in structural equation modeling with age as a covariate. Mediation via subjective reports of autonomic function was supported in males (standardized indirect effect in males = -.35 [95% CI: -.53, -.20]; females = -.09 [95% CI: -.17, -.03]). The direct effect of childhood maltreatment was not significant with the addition of the mediator, supporting full mediation. Follow-up analyses indicated that the mediation effect remained even after those with sexual abuse were removed from the male model (Standardized indirect effect = -.30 [95% CI: - .61, -.10]) but not the female model. A chronic autonomic state that supports biobehavioeral defense following abuse and trauma may contribute to adult sexual function problems, particularly in males and may point toward new treatment opportunities that target the autonomic nervous system.
The integration of vocal communication and biobehavioral state regulation in mammals: A Polyvagal hypothesis
Dr Porges's interview in the Psychotherapy Networker titled: Wearing Your Heart On Your Face: The Polyvagal Circuit in the Consulting Room
Dr. Porges interviews with Dr. Ruth Buczynski of the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM)
Beyond the Brain: How the Vagal System Holds the Secret to Treating Trauma (PDF).
Dr. Porges interviews with Nancy Eichhorn for Somatic Psychotherapy Today
Serge Prengel interview with Dr. Porges from Somatic Perspectives (PDF)
Dr Porges's FAST COMPANY interview: How to know whether you're working with mammals or reptiles (and why it matters to your creativity)