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A dual physiological character for sexual function: libido and sexual pheromones

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Human sexual response is a complex function involving many cerebral, spinal and peripheral aspects; the last are relatively known and benefit from good pharmacological control, as in the case of erectile dysfunction. Spinal cord sexual reflexes also have a good theoretical and experimental description. There is minimal understanding of the cerebral sexual processes (libido, sexual arousal, orgasm). The initial perspective was that the cerebral areas implied in sexuality exert descending stimulatory and inhibitory influences on spinal cord sexual centres/reflexes. This was a wrong supposition, which inhibited progress in this subject, with a considerable impact on a subject’s individual and social life. A new approach to sexual function arises from the idea that simple neurological structures can support only simple functions, while a more complex function requires correspondingly complex anatomical structures. For this reason the spinal cord would not be able to realise the integration of multiple (spinal and psychosensorial) stimuli into a unique and coherent ejaculation response. Consequently, all mechanisms implied in human sexuality would be cerebral processes, ejaculation reflexes ascending in evolution to the cerebral level. This new evolutionary concept was developed after 2001 in five distinct articles on the cerebral duality of sexual arousal, sexual hormones, ejaculation and serotonergic receptors. During this period other published results suggested a possible cerebral duality for sexual pheromones and libido in humans. All these dual physiological aspects are integrated in this review into one neurophysiological model, thus trying to further develop the new concepts of sexual function and perhaps relational behaviour. In conclusion, ejaculation is a dual cerebral process with arousal sensation (hormonally modulated) and libido perception (pheromonally modulated) as the afferent part. Two neurophysiological axes could exist in both men and women. In this assumption the mechanisms for libido and sexual arousal are not the only ones invoked, their correlations and implications are also suggested, perhaps critical aspects for further developments in the field.
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Keywords: arousal; character; dual; hormones; libido; sexual pheromones; sexuality

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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