herald

Monday 23 October 2017

Women with low sex drive have 'different brains'

Women with a low sex drive could now have a scientific explanation for their lack of desire after experts found their brains behave differently.

Those with a low libido have different patterns of brain activity to women with a healthy sex drive, according to a new study.

Experts asked women to watch a series of videos, including erotic scenes, and measured their brain's response using MRI scans.

Certain areas of the brain that normally light up when processing information about sex failed to do so in women with low libido.

Researcher Dr Michael Diamond, from Wayne State University in Detroit, said the findings offered "significant evidence" that persistent low sex drive -- known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) -- was a genuine physiological disorder and not made up.



CONFERENCE

There has long been controversy over whether HSDD is a real medical condition.

He said: "The study provides a physical basis suggesting that it is a true physiological disorder."

The research, which is being presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) conference in Denver, involved 19 pre-menopausal women with clinically diagnosed HSDD and seven women with normal sexual function.

The women were asked to watch television for half an hour, during which time a blank blue screen, everyday programmes and erotic videos were alternated every minute. Brain scans showed differences in how the women's brains interpreted the sexual stimulus.



regions

"The study indicates that there are some similarities between women with normal sexual function and those with HSDD, but that there are certain areas of the brain that have different characteristics," Dr Diamond said.

"There are some parts of the brain that light up, that show increased blood flow in certain regions in women with normal sexual function, and other regions that are the opposite.

"The insular cortices, an area where there's interpretation of emotions, is the area where there's a difference in changes in blood flow between the two groups."

HSDD is defined as the persistent and distressing lack of sexual desire and has become increasingly recognised as a form of female sexual dysfunction in the medical world.

However, some doctors say a woman's lack of desire is usually a mix of personal, relationship and societal factors.

hnews@herald.ie

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