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Charlie Rose Science Series Explores Human Sexuality

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Human Sexuality

Since Alfred Kinsey broke cultural barriers in the discussion and study of human sexuality, an increasing number of social scientists, psychologists, and physiologists have been studying sexual issues and behavior. Yet there is still a great deal unknown about sexuality. In the latest episode of the Charlie Rose Science Series, Charlie Rose and co-host Sir Paul Nurse, Noble Laureate and President of Rockefeller University, convene leading doctors to explore the physiological and psychological aspects of human sexuality -- including the differences between men and women when it comes to sex, and the relationship between sexual performance and health issues. The roundtable discussion also examines the major trends in sexual behavior, changing public perceptions and medical breakthroughs related to sexual dysfunction.

The 11th installment of the Charlie Rose Science Series, which is sponsored by Pfizer Inc, will begin airing on November 20, 2007, on more than 200 PBS stations across the country.

"Throughout the Series we have addressed complex issues like AIDS, Cancer and Global Health, but what amazes me is how little science knows about the multidimensional components of human sexuality," said Charlie Rose. "It has been thought about and talked about for thousands of years, yet it remains a relatively young field of scientific study."

Guests for the show are: Ridwan Shabsigh, MD, Director, Division of Urology at Maimonides Medical Center; Julia Heiman, PhD, Director, Kenneth Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction; Anita H. Clayton, MD, David C. Wilson Professor of Psychiatry, University of Virginia; and Edward O. Laumann, PhD, Director, Ogburn Stouffer Center for Population and Social Organization, University of Chicago.

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A healthy sexual life involves the correct functioning of multiple organ, nerve and hormone systems and failure in any one of these systems, which happens with many diseases, can contribute to reductions in overall health, including sexual function. Research conducted by the University of Chicago and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School shows that sexual dysfunction is common, affecting 43 percent of women and 31 percent of men. Medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart and vascular disease, neurological disorders, hormonal imbalance, chronic disease or drug abuse also have significant effects on human ability to engage in sexual relationships.

"Pfizer's introduction of a revolutionary treatment for erectile dysfunction offered relief to many men who had few other options, but more importantly it encouraged men to begin having more open and honest conversations with their doctors about their sexual health" said Dr. Michael Allen, Vice President, Urology and Sexual Health at Pfizer's United Kingdom research and development site. "As we know, enjoying a safe, intimate relationship involves a host of complex, sociological and physiological factors that begin with good health. Encouraging men to speak to their doctors about their health issues, including erectile dysfunction, has broader health benefits"

For many people, psychological factors affecting sexual health include work-related stress, high levels of anxiety, deep concern about sexual performance, marital or relationship problems, depression or effects of past sexual trauma or abuse. While most physical problems affecting sexual health can be treated with a variety of medications, sexual dysfunction caused by psychological issues usually requires counseling, education and improved communications between partners. Previously thought of as quality of life issues, science has begun to study the cause of male and female sexual disorders more seriously to help restore dignity and to improve people's overall health.

"Science has developed treatments for short term sexual dysfunction and we have a basic understanding that good health is important to avoiding long term dysfunction, but beyond that we need to engage in much more research," said Dr. Nurse. "With recent research showing that more women than men experience difficulties in their sexual relationships, it is imperative to gather more data in order to better understand, assess and treat these problems. It is good to know that highly trained experts are beginning to make headway on an issue that is so integral to our health and happiness."

Pfizer's support for the Charlie Rose Science Series and its exploration of the advances being made in scientific research, their contribution to our understanding of the world around us, and how these breakthroughs may be applied to improving human health is part of Pfizer's commitment to expanding scientific understanding.