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Science Uncovers Clues About Male and Female Dysfunction

The future of sex is fabulous, if the great strides made in sex research during just the past year are any indication. Here's a 10-strong sampling of recently discovered scientific clues about men's and women's sexual function ... and dysfunction.

Impotence ... Signal of Some Heart Trouble?

Erectile dysfunction could be linked with a threefold increase in heart attack risk, according to findings reported at the November 2003 conference of the American Heart Association. A study by the Mayo Clinic that included 2,000 male participants suggests impotence can be a signal of poor heart health in men, but researchers stopped short of trying to define the exact relationship between impotence and heart trouble.

Dropping Pounds ... Effective Against Impotence?

In a study in Italy of about 100 obese men who suffered from erectile dysfunction, almost a third got back normal sexual function after joining an intensive weight-loss program. The men meanwhile lowered their blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Hysterectomy ... Helpful for Sex Function?

Two new studies with results reported in OB GYN News near the end of 2003 show that sexual function isn't hurt — and might be improved — after hysterectomy, regardless of surgical approach for removal of the uterus. In the first study of 70 women, 70 percent said they had no change or an increased desire for sex about half a year after their hysterectomy. In the second study of 352 women, sexual satisfaction increased significantly from a preoperative average of 7 on a scale of 1 to 10 to 7.5 six months after the operation.

DHEA ... Taking Over Testosterone's Role?

Australian researchers have determined that the natural steroid hormone DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) might be a better predictor of low sexual desire in young women than testosterone. Young women with the lowest levels of desire and arousal also tested lowest for DHEA levels in blood samples, while testosterone levels did not correlate with extent of sexual dysfunction.

Propecia for Hair Loss ... No Sexual Side Effects?

The prescription hair-loss drug Propecia — a male hormone blocker used at higher doses to treat prostate enlargement — has been thought to cause erection difficulties in some men taking it. The bald truth, according to a study completed by Italian researchers earlier this year: Propecia does not seem to be associated with significant changes in overall sexual satisfaction or in erectile function, orgasmic function or sexual desire.