Magnetic resonance imaging of sexual intercourse is both possible and useful...

December 16, 1999

(Magnetic resonance imaging of male and female genitals during coitus and female sexual arousal) BMJ Volume 319 18-25 December 1999 pp1596-1600

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Taking magnetic resonance images of the male and female genitals during sexual intercourse is both feasible and has helped contribute to our understanding of living anatomy, write researchers from the Netherlands in this week's Christmas issue of the BMJ.

In an attempt to ascertain whether a couple making love could physically fit into a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner and to find out whether taking images of the male and female genitals was possible, Professor Willibrord Weijmar Schultz and colleagues from University Hospital Groningen in the Netherlands recruited eight couples and three single women (over the age of 18 years and each with a small to average weight/height index).

These participants performed thirteen experiments in the MRI scanner over a period of seven years - the scanner had been adapted slightly such that the diameter of the tube in which couples were situated was widened to 50cm. The research team found the male participants had more problems with sexual performance (specifically, maintaining an erection) than the women in the scanner. All the women had a complete sexual response, but those who reached orgasm described it as "superficial".

Despite these drawbacks for participants, the research team was still able to achieve good magnetic resonance images of coitus in progress. They found that the imaging showed that during female sexual arousal the uterus raises and the anterior (front) vaginal wall lengthens. There was no evidence of an increase in the volume of the uterus during sexual arousal, or a change in the position of the uterus, as had been reported by Masters and Johnson in the 1960s, they say.

Weijmar Schultz et al also found that during intercourse in the "missionary position" the penis (root plus pendulous part) is neither straight nor "S" shaped as had been previously thought, but is, in fact, the shape of a boomerang. The lower position of the male pelvis during intercourse, the potential size of the root of the penis and the capacity of the penis in erection to be at an angle of around 120 degrees to the root of the penis, enables penetration almost parallel to the woman's spine.

The authors conclude that their research has contributed to our understanding of living anatomy, never before either practical or possible.
-end-
Contact:

Professor Willibrord Weijmar Schultz, Associate Professor of Gynaecology, Department of Gynaecology, University Hospital Groningen, Netherlands c/o Rogier Verhagen

Tel: +31 50 361 2200 or 361 6161 Fax: +31 50 361 4200
w.c.m.weymar.schultz@oprit.rug.nl

BMJ

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