By Steven Reinberg
WESTPORT, Jun 28 (Reuters Health) - Partial reversal of sexual dysfunction in women with spinal cord injury may be achieved with the use of sildenafil, according to the results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
Sildenafil has already been shown to be effective in treating erectile dysfunction in men with spinal cord injury, according to the Dr. Marca L. Sipski from Miami Veterans Administration Medical Center, Florida, and a multicenter team. This study, they say, is the first to examine the sexual effects of sildenafil in women with spinal cord injury in a controlled setting.
Dr. Sipski's group studied 19 premenopausal women with spinal cord injury. The women were randomized to receive either 50 mg sildenafil or a placebo in a crossover design. The team recorded both physiologic and subjective measures of sexual response, heart rate and blood pressure, at baseline and during sexual stimulation.
An hour after the drug was administered, the subjects underwent two 12-minute periods of audiovisual stimulation followed by two 12-minute periods of audiovisual and manual clitoral stimulation. Between each period of stimulation there was a 6-minute baseline period.
The results indicated that compared with placebo, there was a significant increase in subjective sexual arousal "with both drug and sexual stimulation conditions, and a borderline significant effect of drug administration on vaginal pulse amplitude." The maximum response occurred "when sildenafil was combined with visual and manual stimulation," according to the report in the June issue of Urology.
"Women felt more aroused and there was an increase in blood flow in the genital region as well," Dr. Sipski told Reuters Health. These women, she noted, took the drug just once. "So," she said, "it might be that if they used the drug in a different dose or in an at-home setting they might have even better results."
"Cardiovascular data showed a modest increases in heart rate (+/- 5 bpm) and mild decreases in blood pressure (+/- 4 mm Hg) across all stimulation conditions, consistent with the peripheral vasodilatory mechanism of the drug," the team notes.
"In addition to woman with spinal cord injury, other populations of women who have physiologic sexual dysfunction — for instance, women with multiple sclerosis or spinal disease — may also benefit from the medication," Dr. Sipski added.