Women's Sexual Arousal Tied to Heart Rate
Women who have a very steady heart rate may have more difficulty in becoming sexually aroused, suggests a a study at the University of Texas at Austin.
To conduct their study, the researchers looked a group of 72 women from ages 18 to 39 and had them watch a three-minute film on a neutral subject while hooked up to an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine that monitored their heart rates. The researchers calculated the women's resting heart rate variability (HRV)--differences in the amount of time between consecutive heartbeats--and categorized them as having low, average or above-average resting HRVs based on established ranges. Then they had the women fill out a standard questionnaire related to sexual function.
The results showed that of 72 participants, 29 percent were considered sexually dysfunctional, based on their answers to the questions. The researchers found that the lower a woman's resting HRV was during the film, the more likely it was that her sexual function score fell in the dysfunctional range.
The researchers note that people with a low HRV may have a more dominant sympathetic nervous system, which can mean a more easily activated "flight or fight" response, whereas others with a high HRV may experience a more restful, relaxed state. If the results of the new study are confirmed, HRV could become the first recognized physiological marker of sexual dysfunction and arousal disorder in women.