Libido is the desire for sex, but arousal is harder to define. It can, however, be assessed both subjectively (through self-reports) and objectively (through changes in body heat, breathing rate, and genital sensitivity), and we know some of its chemistry.
Neurotransmitters and hormones mediate arousal. Like male arousal, female arousal is mediated by hypothalamic dopamine and androgens — a case study has noted a lack of libido in a woman deficient in dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a potent androgen derived from testosterone. Estrogens, on the other hand, are not highly related to the neurology of sex, but rather to the regulation of female sexual anatomy.
Externally, arousal appears influenced by the scent of the desired gender: smelling androgens stimulates heterosexual females, whereas smelling estrogens stimulates homosexual females and heterosexual males. In the latter, smelling estrogens even increases testosterone. The study of human pheromones, however, is still in its infancy.
One of the main research techniques to induce sexual arousal — the showing of pictures and videos of sexual activities the subjects report enjoying — seems to be more effective in males than in females. Nevertheless, females do get sexually aroused by erotic videos, though not by sexual documentaries.
A wide range of psychological and physiological health factors benefit from penile-vaginal intercourse, which has been associated with greater satisfaction with regard to sex, partnership, mental health, and life in general. Other sexual activities don’t seem to provide the same benefits, and masturbation and anal intercourse might even be detrimental to health.
Orgasm can be defined as a peak of euphoria usually followed by a feeling of contentment. Whereas libido is most affected by androgens and the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine (aka noradrenaline), orgasm appears most affected by another neurotransmitter: serotonin. Various brain regions are important for female arousal and orgasm.
At the moment, no supplement has a large body of evidence for the enhancement of female orgasm; all we have are promising routes that await more research. Most studies to date have aimed to prevent the decrease in libido caused by antidepressants; the results of such studies may not apply to healthy women.
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