The Women, Immunity and Sexual Health (WISH) lab is an interdisciplinary lab that studies the interactions between women’s sexual and reproductive health, and mental and physical health.
Some questions we are researching include:
- How might substance use habits relate to sexual arousal and/or interest patterns in women who identify as a sexual minority?
- How do changes in inflammation and hormones relate to changes in sexual desire and arousal?
- How do hormonal changes, like menopause, menstrual cycling, and pregnancy, influence sexual health and functioning?
- How does low sexual desire relate to chronic inflammation and cardiovascular health in women?
- How is sexual function and vaginal health influenced by different types of sexual lubricants?
- How does the reproductive system interact with the immune system to balance between defending against pathogens, and not accidentally attacking sperm or embryos? How does sexual activity influence this balance?
- How do antidepressants change sexual function and sexual relationships in females during reproductive transitions, such as postpartum or during puberty?
- Can psychological interventions reduce the fight-or-flight response to sex in women with a history of childhood sexual abuse, or women with pelvic pain?
- Why do women taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have lower genital arousal than unmedicated depressed women? How does exercise help improve these sexual side effects?
To answer these and other questions, we use methods from multiple fields, including measures of hormones and immune markers, psychophysiological measures of sexual and autonomic arousal, neural imaging, clinical trials, surveys and interviews.
Please explore our Research page to learn more about current projects, Publications page for completed studies, and our People page to learn more about the research assistants, graduate students and collaborators who support this lab.