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2 October 2006
Speed Of Female Arousal Surprises Scientists
by George Atkinson

Researchers studying female sexual arousal were surprised to discover that women can become aroused as quickly as men can. The scientists, from McGill University, used thermal imaging technology to measure sexual arousal rates in both men and women and now say that the conventional wisdom that women become aroused more slowly than men is incorrect.

The study is the first of its kind to use the non-invasive technique of thermal imaging, which detects radiation emitted by objects based on their temperature. Most people know it as the technology used in night vision goggles.

In the past, researchers have measured sexual arousal with devices that require genital contact. In this new study, however, McGill's Dr. Irv Binik focused thermal cameras on his subjects' genitals while they watched different video material; ranging from pornography to Canadian tourism travelogues.

During the arousal phase of the experiment, the male and female subjects watched separate sexually explicit films from the Kinsey Institute that had been determined to be sexually arousing to specific genders. To minimize possible distractions, the subjects watched the videos through special goggles. "In any experiment on sexual arousal done in a laboratory, there is some distraction," said Dr. Binik. "But compared to previous techniques involving invasive measures or electrodes, this is minimally invasive."

During the experiment, Dr. Binik's team monitored body-temperature changes to within a 100th of a degree. Interestingly, both the men and the women began showing arousal within 30 seconds. Maximal arousal in the men was reached after 665 seconds and in the women in 743 seconds - what the researchers say is a statistically negligible difference.

"Comparing sexual arousal between men and women, we see that there is no difference in the amount of time it takes young men and women to reach peak arousal," said Dr. Binik. The researchers suggest that their results, set to be published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, could prove useful in helping diagnose and treat sexual dysfunction in women, which is poorly understood.

Based on material from McGill University

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