Would you do a 20 minute workout if you knew it would it dramatically improve your sexual desire? Break out your gym clothes because some breakthrough studies have shown that an exercise I call “20/70” makes women locked, cocked and ready to rock.
There are stunning new developments in our understanding of how exercise affects female sexual functioning. The findings directly contradict the scientific assumptions of the last forty years and may offer a radically different treatment protocol for low sex drive in women.
This promising revolution started when a team of researchers led by Dr. Cindy Meston at the University of Texas at Austin, discovered, almost by accident, that a specific type of exercise can significantly increase sexual desire even in women with low libido.
For the last forty years, clinicians, researchers, and theorists assumed that the Parasympathetic Nervous System, which governs erectile response in men, was also responsible for sexual response in women. There was no real empirical evidence for it. They just had no reason to think otherwise. Thus treatment of sexual dysfunction centered around activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System. For example, anxiety-reduction techniques (breathing, progressive muscle relaxations) activate the Parasympathetic while inhibiting the Sympathetic Nervous System. They facilitate sexual response by decreasing negative thoughts that divert the processing and experiencing of erotic cues, but these techniques do nothing to stimulate arousal.
Sex Drive Solution For Women
Dr. Meston questioned the basic if-it’s-true-for-men-it’s-true-for-women assumption and asked a startling question: Could the Sympathetic Nervous System actually be the mechanism that triggers sexual response in women?
Both systems work in complementary ways to keep the body running properly. For example, the Parasympathetic Nervous System contracts the urinary bladder while the Sympathetic Nervous System relaxes it. Sympathetic is responsible for excitement; Parasympathetic for relaxation. Sympathetic accelerates the human body while Parasympathetic decelerates it. These are important distinctions in the study of sexuality because treatment protocols that activate one system inhibit the other.
For a comprehensive look at sex drive solutions for women, click here.
What Dr. Meston needed to test her hypothesis was something that would activate the Sympathetic Nervous System. She chose exercise, which in moderate-to-high intensities generates the amount of Sympathetic Nervous System activity necessary for testing. So here’s what they did: They outfitted test subjects with a vaginal photoplethysmograph (VPG), A menstrual tampon-shaped device that illuminates the capillary bed of the vaginal wall and the blood circulating within it. As the amount of blood in the vaginal tissue increases, more light is reflected into the device. VPG is widely used to measure genital sexual arousal.
Test subjects were divided into an exercise and no-exercise group. The exercise group spent 20 minutes on a stationary bike pedaling at 70% of their maximum heart rate. Both groups were then shown an erotic film. As you’d expect, both the exercise and non-exercise groups experienced an increase in sexual arousal during the film, characterized by increased genital blood flow, clitoral erection and increased lubrication. But it was in the exercise group that the VPGs lit up like Christmas trees. The women who exercised had significantly, sometimes dramatically, higher levels of sexual arousal than women who did not, even though they watched the same erotic film.
Now, the natural inclination is to conclude that exercise causes sexual arousal. Not true. Exercise sets the stage for it. Without an erotic stimulus there is no sexual arousal.
Here’s the fascinating part. Exercise, without viewing the erotic film, lit up the VPGs, signaling significant changes in genital blood flow. But when test subjects were asked if they felt sexually aroused the answer was no. Dr. Meston noted that exercise can physiologically prepare your body for sexual activity, but you still need an erotic stimulus, a psychological cue that activates the subjective experience of arousal. In other words, exercise sets the table but erotic stimuli serves the food.
What makes this study especially significant is that it’s been replicated over and over with the same results across different groups of women, even with women taking anti-depressants. Especially notable is a study on women who struggled with low libido. That study represented the first empirical evidence that women with low libido can be sexually aroused through the activation of the Sympathetic Nervous System.
Again, it’s easy to misinterpret these studies and think that exercise increases sexual arousal. It does not. Exercise followed by an erotic stimulus creates arousal.
Many of Dr. Meston’s fellow scientists believe these studies herald a revolution in the treatment of low libido in women. For decades, the prevailing assumption was that the Sympathetic Nervous System inhibited sexual arousal in women. But now there is strong evidence to the contrary.
How Exercise Gets Your Body Ready For Sex.
We know what exercise does to improve your sex life–it increases blood flow, which improves sensation, lubrication, arousal, and the intensity of orgasm. But exactly how does exercise do that? By strengthening the most important muscle in your body–the heart. Exercise, especially aerobic exercise (anything that elevates the heart rate for a sustained period of time–running, swimming, aerobics, etc), builds a bigger, stronger heart that can forcefully pump blood and make it circulate faster through the body, including the pelvic region where increased blood flow is critical to arousal. Increased circulation means faster delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the body while speeding up the exit of waste and toxins.
Over time, the walls of the heart grow thicker and stronger, allowing it to pump more blood with less effort. It also increases the number and size of blood vessels in the tissues (including the vaginal walls), thus increasing the blood supply to all parts of the body.
Studies have also shown that exercise is the clitoris’ best friend. Using clitoral color Doppler ultrasound (a technician presses a small hand-held device about the size of a bar of soap, against the clitoris), researchers at Fatih University, Ankara, Turkey, were able to prove that women who exercise had better clitoral blood flow than women who didn’t. During sex, the clitoris increases in length and diameter because blood flow almost doubles during stimulation. Exercise facilitates the doubling and is a female libido booster. As an aside, if you’re wondering why the clitoris, which is built with the same erectile tissue as the penis, doesn’t get a rigid erection, it’s because unlike the penis, there is no mechanism to trap the blood.
In addition to increasing blood flow (and activating the Sympathetic Nervous System Exercise–a laboratory-proven jump-start for low libido), exercise has been shown to affect a variety of hormones linked with female sexual arousal–testosterone, cortisol, estrogen, prolactin and oxytocin.
Exercise isn’t a ‘good idea’ for improving sex; it is the single best thing you can do for it. Without exercise you are endangering the restoration of your love life.
In next week’s post, learn about the paradox of affection and sex. In the meantime, read about 7 exercises for better sex.