Association between clitoral tissue perfusion and female sexual dysfunction in healthy women of reproductive age: a pilot study

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The impact of abnormalities in the vascular bed of the external genitalia and vagina on female sexuality is not well defined because of some methodological difficulties in correctly assessing vascular changes of genitalia in women. Transmucosal oxygen tension (TmPO2) represents a precise measure of oxygen partial pressure at the clitoris surface and is expression of clitoral tissue perfusion. Aim of the study was to correlate TmPO2 with female sexual dysfunction (FSD) in healthy women in order to evaluate the impact of clitoral vascularization on female sexual health. Twenty-seven healthy, heterosexual, and sexually active women of reproductive age (mean age: 31.18 ± 4.71) were enrolled in the study. TmPO2 was assessed in every woman. In addition, all the women filled out the Female sexual function index (FSFI). After adjustment for some covariates (age, BMI, and smoking), TmPO2 significantly correlated with FSFI total score (r = 0.4261; p = 0.0379) and with arousal (r = 0.3239; p = 0.0390), lubrication (r = 0.4345; p = 0.0339), orgasm (r = 0.4092; p = 0.0471), and satisfaction (r = 0.4456; p = 0.0291) scores. In addition, TmPO2 was significantly lower in the FSD than in the NO FSD group (28.4 ± 14.5 versus 48.1 ± 25.1 mmHg; p = 0.0416). This study first shows that in healthy women of reproductive age clitoral tissue perfusion, as assessed by TmPO2, correlates very well with FSD and in particular with arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction. Further studies should confirm our data and test TmPO2 as potential predictor for cardiovascular disease and metabolic conditions in women.

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This study was funded by the Istituto Clinico Beato Matteo, Vigevano (current research).

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Correspondence to Carmine Gazzaruso.

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