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C-Tactile Mediated Erotic Touch Perception Relates to Sexual Desire and Performance in a Gender-Specific Way

Bendas, J., Georgiadis, J. R., Ritschel, G., Olausson, H., Weidner, K. & Croy, I., May-2017, In : Journal of Sexual Medicine. 14, 5, p. 645-653 9 p.

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  • C-Tactile Mediated Erotic Touch Perception Relates to Sexual Desire

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DOI

Background: Unmyelinated low-threshold mechanoreceptors-the so-called C-tactile (CT) afferents-play a crucial role in the perception and conduction of caressing and pleasant touch sensations and significantly contribute to the concept of erotic touch perception.

Aim: To investigate the relations between sexual desire and sexual performance and the perception of touch mediated by CT afferents.

Methods: Seventy healthy participants (28 men, 42 women; mean age+/-SD = 24.84+/-4.08 years, range = 18-36 years) underwent standardized and highly controlled stroking stimulation that varied in the amount of CT fiber stimulation by changing stroking velocity (CT optimal = 1, 3 and 10 cm/s; CT suboptimal = 0.1, 0.3, and 30 cm/s). Participants rated the perceived pleasantness, eroticism, and intensity of the applied tactile stimulation on a visual analog scale, completed the Sexual Desire Inventory, and answered questions about sexual performance.

Outcomes: Ratings of perceived eroticism of touch were related to self-report levels of sexual desire and sexual performance.

Results: Pleasantness and eroticism ratings showed similar dependence on stroking velocity that aligned with the activity of CT afferents. Erotic touch perception was related to sexual desire and sexual performance in a gender-specific way. In women, differences in eroticism ratings between CT optimal and suboptimal velocities correlated positively with desire for sexual interaction. In contrast, in men, this difference correlated to a decreased frequency and longer duration of partnered sexual activities.

Clinical Implications: The present results lay the foundation for future research assessing these relations in patients with specific impairments of sexual functioning (eg, hypoactive sexual desire disorder).

Strengths and Limitations: The strength of the study is the combination of standardized neurophysiologic methods and behavioral data. A clear limitation of the study design is the exclusion of exact data on the female menstrual cycle and the recruitment of an inhomogeneous sample concerning sexual orientation.

Conclusion: The present results provide further evidence that unmyelinated CT afferents play a role in the complex mechanism of erotic touch perception. The ability to differentiate between CT optimal and suboptimal stimuli relates to sexual desire and performance in a gender-specific way. Copyright (C) 2017, International Society for Sexual Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-653
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Volume14
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May-2017

    Keywords

  • Touch, Erotic, Gender, C-Tactile Afferents, Sexual Performance, Sexual Desire, PRIMARY SOMATOSENSORY CORTEX, HELP-SEEKING BEHAVIOR, UNMYELINATED AFFERENTS, BRAIN ACTIVATION, PLEASANT TOUCH, HAIRY SKIN, WOMEN, HUMANS, SYSTEM, MEN

ID: 47263989