Low female desire: All in the mind?

A study finds brain differences in women with weak sex drives and supports drug companies' search for "pink Viagra"


Tracy Clark-Flory
October 26, 2010 6:30PM (UTC)

Here comes supporting evidence for the search for a sex drive drug for women: A study out of Wayne State University has found that women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) show different brain activity while watching erotic videos. Researchers "took 19 pre-menopausal volunteers with a clinical diagnosis of HSDD and seven women with what was termed 'normal sexual function,'" and had them watch a series of clips alternating between innocuous and sexy content. "Certain areas of the brain that normally light up when thinking about sex fail to do so in women with HSDD," reports the Telegraph, "while other areas that don't normally light up, do."

If the finding is supported by further studies, the implications are huge. Researcher Michael Diamond explains, "Being able to identify physiological changes, to me provides significant evidence that HSDD is a true disorder as opposed to a societal construct. This study provides a physical basis suggesting that it is a true physiological disorder." That would validate the time and money drug companies are putting into their search for a female desire drug. But the study's sample size is minute and, as Sandy Goldbeck-Wood, an expert in psycho-sexual medicine, pointed out to the Telegraph, "A larger case-control study, adjusting for confounding factors such as depression or other physical or mental illnesses, would be needed before you begin to know whether the brain changes actually relate to sexual function at all, or to some other more general factor such as depression." And so, the search continues once more.

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Tracy Clark-Flory

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