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Ann Neurol. 2001 Jan;49(1):35-44.

Sexual arousal and orgasm in women: effects of spinal cord injury.

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  • 1Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Miami School of Medicine, FL, USA.


Sexual disorders are common in women; however, the neurological basis of female sexual response has not been adequately investigated. This information is necessary to characterize the impact of various neurological disorders on sexual arousal in women and to develop appropriate management strategies for sexual dysfunction. To assess the spinal mediation of sexually stimulated genital vasocongestion in women, we conducted two laboratory-based, controlled analyses: (1) of women's genital, subjective, and autonomic responses to audiovisual erotic and audiovisual erotic combined with manual genital stimulation; and (2) of women's ability to achieve orgasm. Subjects included 68 premenopausal women with spinal cord injuries (SCIs) and 21 able-bodied, age-matched controls. Results indicated that preservation of sensory function in the T11-L2 dermatomes is associated with psychogenically mediated genital vasocongestion. Less than 50% of women with SCIs were able to achieve orgasm, compared with 100% of able-bodied women (p = 0.001). Only 17% of women with complete lower motor neuron dysfunction affecting the S2-S5 spinal segments were able to achieve orgasm, compared with 59% of women with other levels and degrees of SCIs (p = 0.048). Time to orgasm was significantly increased in women with SCIs compared with able-bodied controls (p = 0.049). Independent raters were unable to differentiate between subjective descriptions of orgasm from SCI women compared with controls. This information should be used when counseling women with spinal dysfunction about their sexual potential.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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