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Decreased Sexual Desire in Women is Reflected in Their Brain Anatomy, says Dutch study

Decreased sexual desire in women is reflected in their brain anatomy, shows study published by researchers from Emotional Brain, the University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University, and San Diego Sexual Medicine.

This week, the specialized, peer-reviewed Journal of Sexual Medicine published a paper on the differences in neuroanatomy of the brain between women with decreased sexual desire and women with normal levels of sexual desire.

This study has been conducted by the Dutch research company Emotional Brain, in cooperation with the universities of Amsterdam and Utrecht (the Netherlands) as well as San Diego Sexual Medicine. (Emotional Brain is responsible for developing Lybrido and Lybridos, new medications for women with Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder.) It had already been demonstrated that, when compared to controls, women with decreased sexual desire process sexual stimuli differently, but the current study is the first to reveal structural differences in the brain.

Women who suffer from reduced sexual desire appear to have reduced gray matter volume (i.e. neural cell nuclei) in several locations in the cerebral cortex. These areas in the brain are associated with the perception of bodily responses and emotional awareness, among other things. Conversely, the white matter volume (i.e. mostly signal pathways connecting cells) is larger in this particular group of women in other parts of the brain, such as the amygdala, which is crucial for recognizing biologically relevant stimuli.

In the aforementioned brain regions, the gray matter volume correlated with the amount of sexual desire and arousal, whereas the differences in orgasmic function mainly correlated inversely with white matter volume. Even though it cannot be concluded from this study whether these differences in neuroanatomy are the cause or rather a result of the sexual problems, it does stress the need for further research into adequate medical and psychological treatment. Given the fact that the reported differences appear to be related to specific complaints, this could provide a starting point for a renewed search for individual differences in women who experience sexual problems.