Getting in the mood isn’t as easy as movies and TV would have us believe. Even the most confident man needs the right conditions to achieve a stellar erection. The same can be said for most women. A recent study conducted at the University of Portsmouth has found that being disgusting will kill a woman’s sexual arousal a lot quicker than other kinds of negative stimuli, such as fear.

"Sex includes increased contact with body odors and fluids which, in other contexts, strongly suggest disease and would elicit disgust," Dr. Diana Fleischman, evolutionary psychologist from the University of Portsmouth's Department of Psychology, said in a statement. "Women are more vulnerable to contracting diseases through sex than men and show worse outcomes once infected, so we should expect that women will be especially turned off when they are disgusted."

Fleischman and her colleagues recruited 76 heterosexual women between the ages of 18 and 42. Women were put into four groups: one that was shown disgusting images prior to watching an erotic film, a second that watched an erotic film prior to being shown disgusting images, a third that was shown frightening images prior to watching an erotic film, and a fourth that watched an erotic film prior to being shown frightening images.

Disgusting images included pictures of diseased or injured humans, human corpses, feces, and vomiting. Frightening images included pictures of violent people, dangerous animals, weapons, heights, tornadoes, and fire. Erotic films were produced and directed by women and designed to be sexually appealing, especially toward women. Women reported their own degrees of arousal, disgust, and fear. They were also fitted with vaginal photoplethysmographs — tampon-shaped acrylic devices used to measure blood flow to the vagina.

"Another prediction we made was that arousal would reduce disgust sensitivity," Fleischman explained. "Previous studies have found that men and women who are exposed to sexually explicit images report less disgust. However, our study is the first to measure blood flow to the genitals, which is necessary for sexual arousal, and how it interacts with disgust. It makes sense that sexual arousal and disgust would affect one another. Sexual arousal motivates us toward closeness with others and their bodies while disgust motivates us away. Given these competing motivations, every one of our ancestors had to overcome disgust in order to have sexual contact and reproduce."

Women who were exposed to disgusting images prior to watching an erotic film were three times less sexually aroused compared to those who were shown a frightening image. Similar studies in the past have found that men are less likely to find something disgusting when they become sexually aroused. The research team concluded that the same cannot be said about women who tend to have a greater vulnerability for contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) than men.

"When we are deciding whether to have sex, there are trade-offs to consider," Fleischman added. "On the one hand, you must have sex to reproduce, and on the other hand, sexual encounters are risky for disease transmission. What our results suggest is that the story is more complicated for women and that women differ in how sexual arousal changes their disgust response."

If any ladies are worried about disgust ruining their next sexual conquest, try eating an apple a day to keep sexual impotency away. Italian researchers recently published a study in the journal Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics revealing that women can stimulate their sexual arousal and boost their pleasure by consuming an apple each day due to its polyphenols and antioxidants. The same can be said for red wine and chocolate.

Source: Meston C, Fessler D, Hamilton L, Fleischman D. Disgust versus Lust: Exploring the Interactions of Disgust and Fear with Sexual Arousal in Women. PLOS ONE. 2015.