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J Urol. 2004 Nov;172(5 Pt 1):1930-4; discussion 1934.

Evaluation of autonomic innervation of the clitoris and bulb.

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  • 1Department of Urology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-6510, USA.



Female sexual dysfunction is a common disorder but there are few objective measures of female genital function. We present a novel technique to record electrical activity of the female genital erectile tissue.


We placed concentric needle electrodes in the right clitoral crus and the bulb of 22 healthy women. Following spontaneous activity recording we stimulated the median nerve to activate the sympathetic nervous system. We simultaneously measured evoked activity in the clitoris and bulb, and hand sympathetic skin responses (SSRs).


Spontaneous electrical activity of the clitoris and bulb was present in 13 subjects. A total of 21 subjects had evoked activity in the bulb, while 18 had evoked activity in the clitoris. All subjects had hand SSRs. Evoked genital response latencies were similar to hand SSR latency (p > 0.05). Evoked electrical activity was recordable in the clitoris and bulb but it was more easily performed in the bulb.


Evoked electrical activity is more consistently obtained than spontaneous activity. These tests represent possible objective measures of female genital autonomic innervation, which may have relevance to female sexual function.

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