A German team has precisely defined where the representation of the clitoris is located in the brain of women. The research reveals that the exact location varies between them and that this region was thicker the more frequently the participants had sexual intercourse.
Until now, knowledge about the neural representation of the genitalia in women and its role in sexual function has been quite scarce. Although the somatosensory cortex dedicates a space to the detection of the touch of each part of the body, the exact location of the female genital field on this map had been controversial.
This lack of data has hindered the development of clinical studies that evaluated the role of the changes produced in this region under certain clinical conditions, such as sexual dysfunction, or in women who suffered abuse.
Now, an investigation carried out by experts from several German institutions and published this week in The Journal of Neuroscience maintains that the representation of the genitalia in the brain map is close to the representation of the hip although it must be located individually since the precise location varies “probably” between them.
“Our mapping approach produced cortical activations in the lateral wall of the somatosensory cortex for all women, although the precise location changed from woman to woman”, explains Christine Heim , professor at the Charité University of Berlin (Germany) and author principal.
The work also found that the region was thicker the more frequently the participants had sexual intercourse. “It has never been shown in humans that this field of genital representation has the ability to vary structurally in relation to its use,” he adds.
Previous studies yielded conflicting results due to less accurate mapping methods. On this occasion, the team used functional magnetic resonance imaging to map the exact representation of female genitalia by measuring the brain’s response to a vibrating membrane over the clitoral region.
“Our individual mapping approach provided greater precision than previous research and unequivocally located the genital field,” continues Heim, who collected a sample of 20 women.
IMPROVE AWARENESS OF SEXUAL FUNCTION
According to the authors, these results will help develop strategies to promote sexual health in women. “Our study provides both the theoretical basis and a new methodological approach to assess the role of the genital field in healthy sexual function and sexual disorders, as we can identify a neural basis for them,” says the lead researcher.
“We can test whether changes in the genital field modify the perception of touch of the genitals. And if interventions, such as sex therapy, modify the genital field, or how this region connects with the emotional brain circuits ”, he emphasizes.