Beautiful agony – neuroscientists reverse engineer the female orgasm

by Limbic on July 14, 2005

From Wired, how science is trying to capture the next big thing: Female arousal drugs:

“…the science of sexual arousal is still young. Viagra revolutionized the field in the 1990s. The little blue pill that gets blood flowing to the right places at that special moment became a blockbuster for Pfizer, spawning Eli Lilly’s Cialis and GlaxoSmithKline’s Levitra. Millions now take these drugs to kick-start an evening of private recreation.

Flush with success in the fight against “erectile dysfunction,” the pharmaceutical industry set out to develop Viagra for women. First, researchers simply gave women the same pill that worked so well for men. The good news: The drug does pump a woman’s genitals full of blood. But it won’t necessarily get her frisky.

The results were surprising and frustrating to the pharmaceutical industry, which had assumed that what was good for the gander would be good for the goose. Julia Heiman, a psychology professor and director of the Kinsey Institute, conducted some of Pfizer’s Viagra studies and found that while some women “really noticed their genitals” and felt aroused, others “barely paid attention” to them and weren’t aroused at all. In other words, signals originating from these women’s genitals just weren’t translating into conscious desires. That insight put a new target in researchers’ sights: the female brain itself. “The brain is where things are made sexual,” Heiman explains. “It’s the organ that causes us to be attracted to certain body types or looks. That kind of preference isn’t processed in the genitals.”

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