New insight into potential cause of sexual dysfunction in women

05/26/05

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine have found that female sexual dysfunction (FSD) affects 48.2 percent of women in a new study and that these women had decreased sensation in the clitoris, which increased the risk of sexual dysfunction.

"There is a paucity of data available on FSD and this study brings attention to the possibility of a neurological cause for the dysfunction," said lead author Kathleen Connell, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of Medicine.

Connell said previous epidemiological studies have shown that about 10 million women between the ages of 50 and 74 report abnormal sexual complaints, including decreased desire, inability to reach orgasm and increased pain with intercourse. In contrast to data on men, Connell said clinical trials evaluating the physiologic mechanisms responsible for sexual function in women are few, despite reports of other investigators, which suggest that sexual dysfunctions may be more common in women than men.

"The sexual response is complex and involves interaction between the nervous system, the vascular system and the musculoskeletal system," said Connell. "Alterations in any of these systems could potentially cause FSD."

The trial was conducted while Connell was at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The team studied the pudenal nerve, which provides nerve fibers to the pelvic floor muscles and is also responsible for sensation in the genital region. They evaluated the role of genital neurological integrity and sexual function in 56 women. They used a validated screening questionnaire to identify women between ages 18 and 68 with FSD and tested vibratory and pressure sensation in the genital region.

The team found that almost half of the women studied reported sexual dysfunction. Of the women with FSD, 23.2 percent had more than one form of sexual dysfunction. Those with sexual dysfunction had decreased sensation in the clitoris compared to asymptomatic women.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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