Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Distinctive brain blood flow patterns associated with sexual dysfunction

Date:
July 16, 2013
Source:
Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University
Summary:
Premenopausal women who aren't interested in sex and are unhappy about this reality have distinctive blood flow patterns in their brains in response to explicit videos compared to women with normal sexual function, researchers report.

This is Dr. Michael P. Diamond, Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.
Credit: Phil Jones

Premenopausal women who aren't interested in sex and are unhappy about this reality have distinctive blood flow patterns in their brains in response to explicit videos compared to women with normal sexual function, researchers report.

A study of 16 women -- six with normal sexual function and 10 with clear symptoms of dysfunction -- showed distinct differences in activation of brain regions involved in making and retrieving memories, and determining how attentive they are to their response to sexual stimuli, researchers report in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

Up to 20 percent of women may have this form of sexual dysfunction, called hypoactive sexual desire disorder, for which there are no proven therapies, said Dr. Michael P. Diamond, Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.

Researchers hope that a clearer understanding of physiological differences in these women will provide novel therapy targets as well as a method to objectively assess therapies, said Diamond, the study's senior author.

"There are site-specific alterations in blood flow in the brains of individuals with hypoactive sexual disorders versus those with normal sexual function," Diamond said. "This tells me there is a physiologic means of assessing hypoactive sexual desire and that as we move forward with therapeutics, whether it's counseling or medications, we can look to see whether changes occur in those regions."

Viagra, developed in the 1990s as way to increase the heart rate of sick babies, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998 to also treat male impotence, a major cause of sexual dysfunction. While several more options for men have been developed since, no FDA-approved options are available for women experiencing hypoactive sexual desire, Diamond said. He notes that a possible critical flaw in developing and evaluating therapies for women may be the inability to objectively measure results, other than with a woman's self-reporting of its impact on sexual activity.

Years ago, Diamond, a reproductive endocrinologist, became frustrated by the inability to help these women. In fact, many women did not bother discussing the issue with their physicians, possibly because it's an awkward problem with no clear solutions, he said.

While still at Wayne State University, he and his colleagues began looking for objective measures of a woman's sexual response, identifying sexually explicit film clips, then using functional magnetic resonance imaging, which measures real-time brain activation in response to a stimulus, to look at responses.

Their latest study links acquired hypoactive sexual desire disorder to a distinct pattern of blood flow in the brain, with significant activation of cortical structures involved in attention and reflection about emotion and mental state. Researchers noted that paying more attention to response to sexual stimuli already is implicated in sexual dysfunction. They also note activation of the anterior cingulate gyrus, an area involved in a broad range of emotions including homeostasis, pain, depression, and apathy. Another key area was the amygdala, which has a central role in processing emotion, learning, and memory.

Women with normal sexual function showed significantly greater activation of areas such as the right thalamus -- a sort of relay station for handling sensory and motor input -- that also plays a role in sexual arousal. They also experienced activation of the parahippocampal gyrus, involved in making and recalling memories. Interestingly, this area has been found to be more significantly activated in women with surgical menopause receiving hormone therapy.

Diamond notes that the official diagnosis of the sexual disorder requires distress regarding persistent disinterest in sex. Study participants were heterosexual, in stable relationships and had previously viewed sexually explicit images. Those with sexual dysfunction had a mean age of 37 versus 29 in the control group. Part of assessing blood flow patterns included also measuring baseline responses to neutral videos.

Next steps include taking these measurements in a larger number of women and beginning to use brain blood flow patterns to assess therapies, Diamond said.

Researchers at The University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and Wayne State University contributed to the study which was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Terri L. Woodard, Nicole T. Nowak, Richard Balon, Manuel Tancer, Michael P. Diamond. Brain activation patterns in women with acquired hypoactive sexual desire disorder and women with normal sexual function: a cross-sectional pilot study. Fertility and Sterility, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2013.05.041

Cite This Page:

Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. "Distinctive brain blood flow patterns associated with sexual dysfunction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130716132147.htm>.
Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. (2013, July 16). Distinctive brain blood flow patterns associated with sexual dysfunction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130716132147.htm
Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. "Distinctive brain blood flow patterns associated with sexual dysfunction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130716132147.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) California lawmakers pass a bill requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on campuses. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3 Things To Know About The Ebola Outbreak's Progression

3 Things To Know About The Ebola Outbreak's Progression

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) Here are three things you need to know about the deadly Ebola outbreak's progression this week. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins