What Do Women Want?

Adventures in the Science of Female Desire

by Daniel Bergner

Excerpts from the book; notes by JFR

It is assumed that all notes below are prefaced by “according to some research, it appears that…”


Mid-menstrual cycle (when testosterone and estrogen peak) is the most likely time that women will be attracted to others.

During low-hormone times, women are less likely to be attracted.

Furthermore, this initial meeting seems to “lock in” future attractions with that individual.


Female rats try to prolong intercourse by interrupting it.


Rats prefer locations that they associate with pleasurable sex.


Hormones flow to the brain and fuel production of neurotransmitters.

Neurotransmitters are responsible for “lust”


“Fifty Shades” words activate dopamine; dendrites react to stimuli, making those pathways easier in the future, so in theory reading dopamine-activating words should make the whole system more functional


The male body is visibly different when aroused, whereas the female body looks largely the same whether aroused or not.

Meana Chivers says: “The male without an erection is announcing a lack of arousal. The female body always holds the promise, the suggestion, of sex.”


“Borderline personalities … ache to replace infinite despair with finite pain.”

Gaining / regaining a feeling of sexiness:


Cognitive reframe: “I am a sexual being;” you are breathing because you’re highly sexual.


“There has to be an Other for there to be sexiness.”

also, Meana Chivers says to her clients: “Tell me what’s desirable about you”

Couples should disentangle: view their spouse/etc from a distance, as an audience (increasing the “otherness”)


Though knowledge of it was supposedly recorded in the 17th century, Beverly Whipple is considered to have brought the G-spot to priminence in 1982

G-spot = clitoral projections brushing against urethra, causes nerve overload

There are four nerve paths from genitals to brain: two from clitoris to spinal cord; the hypogastric nerve roundabouts and connects at bellybutton; vagus nerve goes directly to brain. (last two are though to be responsible for “vaginal” orgasms)


Speed dating test showed that whoever moved (got up and changed seats) was more likely to find people attractive / want a second date