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J Sex Med. 2018 Mar;15(3):296-303. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.01.007. Epub 2018 Feb 3.

Tibial Nerve Stimulation to Drive Genital Sexual Arousal in an Anesthetized Female Rat.

Author information

1
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Biointerfaces Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
2
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Biointerfaces Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Medical Engineering and Medical Physics Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, MA, USA.
3
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
4
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Biointerfaces Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. Electronic address: bruns@umich.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There is clinical evidence that percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation can positively benefit women with female sexual interest/arousal disorder, yet no studies have explored the potential mechanisms further.

AIM:

To investigate the effect of tibial nerve stimulation on vaginal blood perfusion (VBP) in an anesthetized rat model.

METHODS:

16 ketamine-anesthetized rats were surgically implanted with a nerve cuff electrode on 1 tibial nerve. The tibial nerve was stimulated for 30 minutes continuously or non-continuously at a frequency of 10 to 25 Hz.

OUTCOMES:

VBP was measured with laser Doppler flowmetry and analyzed using a wavelet transform of time-frequency representations with a focus on the neurogenic energy range (0.076-0.200 Hz).

RESULTS:

25 of 33 (75.8%) stimulation periods had at least a 500% increase in laser Doppler flowmetry neurogenic energy compared with baseline. This increase was most common within 20 to 35 minutes after the start of stimulation. There was no statistically significant difference for frequency used or estrous cycle stage.

CLINICAL TRANSLATION:

The results of this study provide further support for percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation as an alternative treatment option for women with genital arousal aspects of female sexual interest/arousal disorder.

STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS:

This study successfully demonstrates the ability of tibial nerve stimulation to increase VBP. However, further studies to determine parameter optimization and to illuminate neural mechanisms are needed. Further studies also are necessary to determine effects of repeated stimulation sessions.

CONCLUSION:

Long-duration tibial stimulation was successful at driving increases in the neurogenic component of VBP, providing evidence that tibial nerve stimulation could be used to treat genital arousal aspects of female sexual interest/arousal disorder by improving pelvic blood flow. Zimmerman LL, Rice IC, Berger MB, Bruns TM. Tibial Nerve Stimulation to Drive Genital Sexual Arousal in an Anesthetized Female Rat. J Sex Med 2018;15:296-303.

KEYWORDS:

Electrical Stimulation; Female Sexual Dysfunction; Laser Doppler; Neuromodulation; Tibial Nerve; Vaginal Blood Flow

PMID:
29402703
DOI:
10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.01.007

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