A new treatment that sounds shocking could actually help women with low sex drives.
Electrical impulses on the dorsal genital nerve around the clitoris have been shown to stimulate sexual arousal in women, including those with severe spinal cord injuries.
The research conducted on University of Michiganincluded nine participants in three groups: three women with some sexual dysfunction, three with a spinal cord injury, and three with no sexual dysfunction or spinal cord injury.
All nine participants completed one clitoral stimulation session and five of them completed a second session. Each session lasted approximately 30 minutes.
During the sessions, when two roughly quarter-sized electrodes were placed on either side of the clitoris, participants reported sensations such as “tingling,” “pulsing,” and “smearing,” but no pain or discomfort.
Before and after each session, the women rated their level of sexual arousal on a five-point scale. The women without spinal cord injuries noted a one or two point increase in arousal after the sessions.
But the women with spinal cord injuries reported a significant increase in their sexual arousal by two or three points after clitoral stimulation.
The researchers noted that their study — which has not yet been peer-reviewed or published — was limited due to the small number of participants and lack of audiovisual materials, making it difficult to compare their findings to other studies that involved pornography or other sexual materials .
Estimates vary, but about 27% of premenopausal women experience some level of low sexual desire. according to a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Other estimates suggest that one in three women will experience periods of low libido at some point in their lives.
Illness, surgery, use of street drugs or alcohol, prescription medications like antidepressants, stress or fatigue can all lead to loss of sexual desire in both men and women. according to the Mayo Clinic.
The type of nerve stimulation used in this research, often referred to as neuromodulation, has been used to treat a number of other conditions, particularly neurological, psychiatric, or behavioral disorders.
Neuromodulation has shown promise in treating movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, pain and depression, and is often used off-label in other neurological disorders, according to a 2022 report in the journal Neurology.