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Women and Sexual Steroids

By HERWriter
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Dr. Irwin Goldstein describes how the vagina is affected by sexual steroids like estrogen and testosterone. We traditionally think of estrogen as the female hormone and testosterone as the male hormone. But women have both, and need to have both.

Speaking about the vagina, Dr. Goldstein says, "So it’s squeezed in the baseline state and relaxed in the sexual state, has very important androgen area, there are androgen receptors in the muscle, just like there is androgen receptors in all muscles and that aspect of the vagina does do well in the presence of testosterone and does less well in the lack of testosterone. So that muscle would be determining the girth and width of a sexually aroused vagina."

Testosterone promotes sensation, and the release of lubrication for sexual arousal. Lack of testosterone is a cause of vulvodynia or vulvar vestibulitis syndrome.

Dr. Irwin Goldstein is the Director of San Diego Sexual Medicine at Alvarado Hospital. He is Secretary of the International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health. Dr. Goldstein is former President of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America.


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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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