Women as fast as men, almost

Sexual arousalScientists in Canada have used a close relative of night-vision goggles to watch women and men become sexually aroused while watching videos. Their study reveals that arousal happens in women just as rapidly as it does in men.

“Comparing sexual arousal between men and women, we see that there is no difference in the amount of time it takes healthy young men and women to reach peak arousal,” says Irv Binik of McGill University Health Centre.

Rather than using manual intervention or genital connections, Binik focused thermographic cameras on his subjects’ genitals while they watched a montage of material from pornography to horror movies to The Best of Mr. Bean to Canadian tourism travelogues to provide a base of control data.

During the arousal experiment, the male and female subjects watched separate sexually explicit films procured from the Kinsey Institute and determined to be sexually arousing to specific genders. They watched the images through special video goggles to minimize distractions.

Binik remotely monitored body-temperature changes to within a 100th of a degree via a computer in a different room. Both the men and the women began showing arousal within 30 seconds. The men reached maximal arousal in about ten minutes, while women took a minute or two longer.

“In any experiment on sexual arousal done in a laboratory, there is some distraction,” concedes Binik. “But compared to previous techniques involving invasive measures or electrodes, this is minimally invasive and the same measurements are used for men and women, which makes it very interesting that the data ended up being the same.”

He says they’re the same, but if women are lagging behind the men by a minute or two in reaching full arousal, that could make all the difference for some couples, surely?

Colleague Tuuli Kukkonen adds that “This will help diagnose and treat sexual dysfunction in women, such as female sexual arousal disorder, which is poorly understood.” Details of the work will appear in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in January 2007.