The desire for sex makes the heart beat faster, dilates the pupils and increases blood flow to the genitals. Whether a person is aroused is also revealed by the molecules in their breath. This is reported by researchers led by Jonathan Williams from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz in the journal “Scientific Reports”.
The research team showed twelve women and twelve men several emotional or erotic videos. Meanwhile, the level of carbon dioxide and organic compounds in the air breathed by the test subjects was measured using a mask. At the same time, a thermal imaging camera recorded, among other things, the temperature of her external genitals as a sign of sexual arousal.
The scientists found that the participants consumed less CO2 and exhaled isoprene when they felt pleasure. One possible reason: When you are sexually aroused, a little less blood flows to the lungs and muscles. As a result, the substances would be transported away in reduced concentrations via the breathing air, the researchers explained. In addition, the breath of the male test subjects contained the breakdown products phenol and indole, which are produced during the production of the amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine – precursor substances of messenger substances such as serotonin and dopamine, which are important for the development of feelings of pleasure.
In women, the respiratory gas analysis provided less clear results overall. On the one hand, this could have been due to the small number of participants – but also to the fact that the women did not find the erotic film as arousing as the male test subjects. The researchers therefore want to repeat the experiment with more test persons. She is also interested in the question of whether the chemical composition of the breath also changes during conversations, hugs or kisses.