Vaginal electrical stimulation (VES) could be effective for treating sexual dysfunction in women without pelvic floor disorders, but more research is needed, Turkish scientists report.
The technique involves delivering a low-voltage electric current through a sensor placed in the vagina. This current causes pelvic floor muscles to contract, an exercise that can help strengthen them.
VES has been effective in improving sexual function in women with pelvic floor problems. But it was unclear whether this treatment would be helpful in women who had sexual dysfunction alone, without pelvic floor issues.
Fifty-four women with sexual difficulties were recruited for the study. None of the women had comorbid conditions.
The women completed the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), which focuses on six domains: arousal, desire, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain. Higher scores on the FSFI indicate better sexual function.
The researchers also evaluated the pelvic floor muscle function and degree of pelvic organ prolapse for all the participants.
The women were then divided into two groups. The first group received one VES treatment each week for eight weeks. These sessions alternated a five-second period of electrical stimulation with five seconds of rest for twenty minutes. (The mean age for this group was 39.6 years.)
The placebo group followed a similar schedule. However, these women received stimulation until their pelvic muscles contracted. The current was then stopped and no further stimulation occurred for the remaining session time. (This group’s mean age was 35.0 years.)
No sessions were held during the women’s menstrual periods.
Forty-two women completed the study and the authors’ analysis is based on their results.
After the treatment period, the women again completed the FSFI and had their pelvic floor muscle function evaluated. The researchers compared these results to those obtained before treatment.
Overall FSFI scores improved for both groups, along with the desire, arousal, and orgasm domains. The VES treatment group also saw gains in satisfaction. But the placebo group did not have significant increases in satisfaction scores. Neither group had significant changes in the pain or lubrication domains.
“Our study suggests that there may be some potential for improved sexual function after VES in women with [female sexual dysfunction],” the authors wrote.
However, the similarity of results between the two groups, except for the satisfaction domain, “challenged on the effectiveness of electrostimulation as a monotherapy in treating primary [female sexual dysfunction],” they added.
Confirmation of their results in a larger group with a longer follow-up period are needed. But it’s possible that VES could work with other pelvic floor rehabilitation techniques to treat women’s sexual problems, the authors noted.
The study was first published online in December in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Aydin, Serdar, MD, et al.
“Effect of Vaginal Electrical Stimulation on Female Sexual Functions: A Randomized Study”
(Full-text. December 3, 2014)