Sexual desire is a subjective experience, an inner impulse that drives a person to seek, initiate, or be receptive to a sexual experience or stimulation in order to satisfy a potential sexual pleasure that is unattainable at the moment. Kaplan defines sexual desire as an increase in the frequency and intensity of sexual thoughts and fantasies and desire for the sexual act.
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Sexual desire can be either spontaneous or evoked. It can be triggered by various types of stimulation, such as the erotic imagination, the reminiscence of pleasurable experiences, emotions, or a combined effect of the five senses. From a phenomenological point of view, sexual desire is difficult to measure objectively because of its subjective nature. Through SexOnSnap.com you will be able to discover the best faces of eroticism.
At the neurophysiological level, desire involves the hypothalamus and the limbic system. Its neurobiological signature is characterized by a complex interplay between different sex hormones and also different neurotransmitters known to be involved in the system of pleasure, motivation and anticipation of the reward. Key hormones and neurotransmitters in the sexual response include testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, prolactin, oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine. However, the inhibitory role (e.g., prolactin, serotonin) or excitatory (e.g., testosterone, dopamine) of these hormones and neurotransmitters on sexual desire remains controversial.
- The precise role of hormones and neurotransmitters in sexual desire therefore remains to be clarified. Genetic factors have recently been described as being also likely to play a role in sexual desire. By examining the DNA of 148 healthy students, and submitting a questionnaire to describe their sexuality, the Ebstein team demonstrated a correlation between variations in the dopamine D4 receptor gene and desire.
- Note that this correlation is not specific to sexual desire: it also concerns sexual arousal. Complementary studies should be considered before understanding the pharmacogenetic basis of sexual desire.
Sexual arousal, the second phase of the sexual response, includes a physical / genital dimension and a subjective dimension. 2-4 Sexual arousal is defined as a subjective sensation of sexual pleasures accompanied by the corresponding physiological modifications (in men: for example penile tumescence and erection, in women: among others, vasocongestion, generalized pelvic vasomotion and accompanied lubrication and vaginal enlargement and intumescence of the external genital organs, DSM-IV). Phenomenologically, sexual arousal can be evoked by different stimuli such as words, kisses (with the tongue), or manual stimulations of the genital and non-genital parts of the body.
The neurovascular, autonomic and hormonal mechanisms of sexual response during excitation have been widely studied. For example, an increase in testosterone levels, luteinizing hormone, oxytocin, apomorphine and norepinephrine was described during the sexual arousal phase. Current knowledge about supraspinal influences on sexual arousal is based primarily on animal studies (and thus on genital sexual arousal). The results show a key role of the hypothalamus and limbic system. Nevertheless, the brain areas underlying precisely the difference between desire and sexual arousal and subjective arousal have for a long time been little studied and are therefore still little known.