Sexual Health news - Sexual Health and Behavior

Scientists now map entire female-specific reproductive behavior circuit in fruit flies

The pivotal differences seen in behavior circuits of female fruit flies before and after mating are discussed in a study published in the journal Current Biology. Behavior changes in female fruit flies - which are immensely different from the behavior changes in male fruit flies - are caused by a peptide protein released in the semen of the male. The peptide activates a group of sensory neurons in the genital tract of a female, which respond to the peptide, stimulating neural circuitry needed to process information and post-mating behavior.

This study is the first time researchers have identified the set of neurons that sense and respond to the peptide and have successfully been able to map out the entire female behavior circuit that occurs after mating.

Males and females exhibit different behaviors

In the past, researchers have focused solely on male circuits because males are the dominant partner in mating behavior, stealing the spotlight from their female partners. Females are usually overlooked because of their coy demeanor.

Despite their submissiveness, females were found to have dramatically different behaviors before and after mating, all of which are focused on producing offspring. They move from a highly receptive sexual state to a non-receptive sexual state. In their non-receptive state, they reject any advance from a male while they change their feeding and activity patterns. This action supports their behavior of accelerated ovulation and the process of laying their eggs. 

"Mating-induced behaviours are important to ensure the propagation and survival of the species," said Carolina Rezaval, Ph.D, the lead post-doctoral researcher. "In flies, once the female has mated, something about her demeanour changes to make her less attractive to the male and focus on more maternal activities."

The hope is that with these findings, more studies will be conducted focusing on the female behavior and female sexuale health.