The science of sex: Women show a bisexual pattern of sexual arousal

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Regardless of sexual orientation, women are sexually aroused by both homosexual and heterosexual erotica, while men are almost exclusively sexually excited by category specific stimuli. This difference was proved by a 2003 study out of Northwestern University titled, "A Sex Difference in the Specificity of Sexual Arousal."

Researches assessed genital (physiological) and subjective (psychological) sexual response in heterosexual and homosexual women and men as they watched each of three types of erotica: male only, women only, and male and female couples.

The research affirmed previous experiments that have shown that male sexual arousal is category-specific. Heterosexual men are more aroused by female than male sexual stimuli. Similarly, homosexual men are more aroused by male stimuli.  However, women didn't fall into this pattern of arousal.  As recorded by both physiological and psychological responses, both heterosexual and homosexual women experienced strong sexually arousal to both male and female erotica. In contrast, both homosexual and heterosexual women showed a bisexual pattern of psychological and genital arousal. Heterosexual and homosexual women were just as sexually aroused by watching female stimuli as by watching male stimuli.


To reduce the possibility that this difference resulted from differences in measuring sexual arousal in male and female genitals, the researchers also ran tests on postoperative transsexuals: persons who were born with a "male" brain but who have medically constructed "female" genitals. For this group, their psychological and genital arousal matched those of men even though their genital arousal was measured in the same way as the women's was.

This genital measurements are in fact so precise in men that scientist can use them to accurately predict the subject's sexual orientation. This is not true for women .

These results suggest that there is a fundamental difference in the mental process by which men and woman become aroused. The study suggests that women's sexual arousal is less connected with their sexual orientation. This suggests that female sexuality is much more flexible than male and that men and women have very different models of sexuality and arousal.

This study raises a number of questions. If women are aroused by both sexes, why do they often choose one exclusively? Some might suggest social conditioning. Others may propose that for women at least, sexual arousal is not the mechanism that determines female sexual orientation. Perhaps for women, sexual orientation has more to do with a psychological inclination than a physical response.

Also, this study may simply demonstrate that visual stimuli is a much more important form of arousal for males than for females. Consider what would happen if a similar study was conducted with the audio clips from homosexual and heterosexual romantic dramas. Women may be much more aroused by specific type of psychological connections expressed in these films where as men may simply be mildly aroused by all of the conversations with sexual undertones.



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