Over the last twenty years, significant advances have been made in the cure and treatment of male sexual dysfunction. Less visible progress has been made in understanding and treating female sexual disorders (FSD), a complex and multi-layered problem.

A team of researchers has undertaken a new approach in the lab to understanding how and why FSD occurs in general, and the impact of the vasculature (the vessels in the body that carry blood, such as arteries and veins) in particular.

The findings of their latest study suggest that the drugs that help men may some day also address some forms of female sexual dysfunction.

New evidence suggests that female sexual dysfunction may be, in part, the result of inadequate supply of blood to the female genitals and may be addressed with erectile dysfunction drugs.

Originally developed as therapy for hypertension, these drugs work by dilating blood vessels sufficiently to produce erections in males. These drugs have not been fully explored in females.

The researchers used an animal model and compared the effects of three drugs used for erectile dysfunction (the phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors (PDE5I, such as Viagra® (sildenafil); Levitra® (vardenafil); and Cialis® (tadalafil)).

PDE5I was used and analyzed in female and male rat internal pudendal arteries. The internal pudendal artery supplies blood to the penis in men and to the vagina and clitoris in women. Arterial segments were contracted with phenylephrine then submitted to increasing concentrations of one of the PDE5 inhibitors.

According to Dr. Allahdadi, “PDE5I may be useful in the treatment of female sexual dysfunction caused by inadequate blood supply through the internal pudendal artery. The significant difference in how male and female pudendal arteries react to PDE5 inhibitors merits further study.”

The study team is currently exploring the different relaxation profile observed between female and male rat internal pudendal arteries as well as functional abnormalities in internal pudendal arteries from diabetic rats.

Source: The American Physiological Association