Sexual dysfunction in women can be solved by 'basic communication'

Researchers at the Medical University of Vienna were looking at the effects of oxytocin on women's sex drives

Victoria Richards
Wednesday 21 October 2015 09:54 BST
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Increased discussion about sex between couples prompted the greatest improvements
Increased discussion about sex between couples prompted the greatest improvements (Rex Features)

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A team of researchers looking into the effects of a hormone spray got some unexpected results when they realised that it was communication - not drugs - that helped solve sexual dysfunction.

Scientists at the Medical University of Vienna observed what happened when women with low libidos were given the 'love hormone' oxytocin, which is naturally produced during childbirth and breastfeeding, over an eight-month period.

But they found that the process of keeping a journal with their partners while taking part in the study was the greatest predictor of enjoyment and improved sexual function.

“This was not predicted at all,” said lead researcher Michaela Bayerle-Eder, as reported by Think Progress. “It just naturally came out of the process.”

Half of the 30 pre-and postmenopausal women involved in the study used an oxytocin nasal spray before having sex, while the other half used a placebo.

Sexual dysfunction is still a real problem with women

&#13; <p>Lead researcher Michaela Bayerle-Eder</p>&#13;

All of them were tasked with working with their partner to write journal entries and fill out a questionnaire about their experience after having sex.

The researchers had hoped that this would reveal unforeseen effects of taking the oxtytocin - but what it actually showed was that increased discussion about sex between couples prompted the greatest improvements in the bedroom.

“Some couples who’d been together for years were sharing their sexual fantasies with each other for the first time," Ms Bayerle-Eder said. "Sharing what they didn’t like about the sex they’ve always had."

And the researchers concluded that while hormonal imbalance may play a part in lowered sexual satisfaction, couples should be honest and open about their desires to really make a difference.

Oxytocin is most commonly given to women to kickstart or speed up labour, but it is also being studied as a drug to cure schizophrenia and autism.

The study of female sexual dysfunction itself is relatively new, and flibanserin - or 'female viagra' - was only approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August.

Ms Bayerle-Eder said that on the basis of the study she would recommend oxytocin be studied as an antidepressant, but not as a libido-booster. But she warned that the results shouldn't discourage research into sexual dysfunction in women.

"Sexual dysfunction is still a real problem with women," she said. "The more research in this field, the better. Female sexual health is finally being recognised by pharmaceutical companies and the public — we want to keep it that way.”

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