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Women Match Men in Sexual Arousal Time

Study Challenges Belief That Women Take Longer to Get Sexually Aroused
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 3, 2006 -- If you think sexual arousal happens faster for men than women, you might want to think again.

Healthy young men and women take the same amount of time -- about 11-12 minutes -- to become sexually aroused, Canadian researchers report.

The researchers, who are based at McGill University in Montreal, included psychology graduate student Tuuli Kukkonen and Yitzchak Binik, PhD, of McGill's psychology department.

The results were presented on Saturday at the Canadian Sex Research Forum's 32nd annual meeting, held in Ottawa, Ontario.

They studied 28 healthy men and 30 healthy women who were 21 years old, on average.

First, participants watched a video with neutral (nonsexual) content. Then they were assigned to watch one of three types of videos:

  • Neutral
  • Funny
  • Sexually explicit

Neutral content included Canadian tourism travelogues, and humorous clips included The Best of Mr. Bean, according to a McGill news release.

Meanwhile, the researchers used thermal imaging cameras to read participants' genital temperature from a distance.

Unlike other techniques used to measure sexual arousal, thermal imaging technology doesn't require genital contact. It measures infrared radiation given off by the body.

Participants' genital temperature didn't change as they watched the neutral or funny videos. But their genital temperature increased as they watched the sexually explicit videos.

Men and women reached peak genital temperature while watching the sexually explicit videos in almost the same amount of time: about 11 minutes for men and 12 minutes for women.

The time difference is so small that it might have been due to chance, the study shows.

Genital temperature matched participants' subjective ratings of sexual arousal. That is, the higher their genital temperature, the more sexually aroused participants said they were.

The researchers call thermal imaging "a promising technology for the assessment of physiological sexual arousal in men and women. It is noninvasive, easy to use, and provides a constant measure of temperature."

"In any experiment on sexual arousal done in a laboratory, there is some distraction," Binik says in a McGill news release.

"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," Binik says.

The researchers call for further studies that include older participants.

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