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Women who worry about sexual performance enjoy it less

March 09, 2009 12:33 IST

A new study has confirmed what many women already knew: paying too much attention on performance during sex could inhibit sexual desire.

And that lack of desire increases self-consciousness, the research added.

According to Stanford University School of Medicine study, women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (characterised by a continual lack of sexual interest or fantasies) use more brainpower than sexually healthy women in monitoring their reactions and performance during sex.

To reach the conclusion, researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging and tracked brain response to sexual stimuli in 16 HSDD women and 20 women who don't suffer the condition.

In the study, volunteers were shown clips of erotic films, women's sporting events, and relaxing nature scenes. In addition to the brain scans, the women subjectively rated their levels of arousal while an instrument objectively measured vaginal response.

Their brains lit up in very different ways, the research found.

"Many of the HSDD subjects spent their time monitoring their experience, or lack thereof," Live Science quoted Leah Millheiser, one of the lead researchers of the study, which was published in the journal Neuroscience, as saying.

"For example, they may have been asking themselves, 'Am I responding correctly?', 'Is this how I am supposed to be feeling?', 'Should I be experiencing more arousal than I currently am?', instead of actually allowing themselves to integrate the information being presented to them in the erotic video," the expert added.

Millheiser says these women may be cheating themselves out of the ability to associate positive emotional memories with sex.

In addition, the results pointed to a disconnect between both groups' subjective ratings and the arousal measurements taken by the vaginal instrument -- results that are consistent with those found in other studies.

"Women can experience little subjective arousal, but still have a genital response, meaning vaginal engorgement and lubrication. The reason behind this phenomenon is not well understood. There is a popular theory that women could have developed this response during the evolutionary process to protect the pelvic floor during forced sexual acts for procreation or childbirth," Millheiser said.

Source: ANI