When it comes to sexual responses, men and women are poles apart, concludes a new study.
Led by Queen's University Psychology professor Meredith Chiversk, the study found that men's reports of feeling sexually aroused tend to match their physiological responses, while women's mind and body responses are less aligned.
"We wanted to discover how closely people's subjective experience of sexual arousal mirrors their physiological genital response – and whether this differs between men and women," said Chiversk.
Although a gender difference has been reported in individual studies of sexual arousal, until now there has been no systematic analysis.
In the study, researchers analysed 134 studies, published between 1969 and 2007, involving more than 2,500 women and 1,900 men.
Participants were asked how aroused they felt during and after exposure to a variety of sexual stimuli.
This subjective measure of arousal was compared with physiological responses—changes in penile erection for men and changes in genital blood flow for women.
The men's subjective ratings more closely matched their physiological measures than the women's; men's brain and bodies were almost always in agreement, while there was more often a reported inconsistency between women's bodies and minds.
"Understanding measures of arousal is paramount to further theoretical and practical advances in the study of human sexuality. Our results have implications for the assessment of sexual arousal, the nature of gender differences in sexual arousal, and models of sexual response," said Chiversk.
The study will be published in the international journal, Archives of Sexual Behavior.