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Quantitative Sensory and Autonomic Testing in Nondiabetic Women with Sexual Dysfunction


Katherine Esposito, MD, PhD, Division of Metabolic Diseases, Second University of Naples, Policlinico Universitario, Piazza L. Miraglia 2, 80138 Naples, Italy; Tel: 39 0815665054; Fax: 39 081 5665054; E-mail:


Introduction.  Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) is a significant public health problem. There are no reported studies assessing the relation between sexual function and neuropathy in women, except for diabetes mellitus.

Aim.  The aim of this study was to explore the correlations between peripheral and autonomic neuropathy, and Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) among nondiabetic women with or without FSD.

Methods.  During a 6-month period, women were screened among outpatients seeking routine weight loss help. Cases were women, either pre- or postmenopausal, with abnormal values of FSFI score; controls were women from the same population with normal values of FSFI score, matched with cases for age and menopausal status. The total score range was 2–36; a score of 23 or lower indicated sexual dysfunction. The tool was administered during the follicular (days 5–8) phase of the menstrual cycle.

Main Outcome Mesures.  The assessment of peripheral neuropathy was based on the quantitative sensory examination using the vibratory, thermal, and pain sensory thresholds. The assessment of autonomic neuropathy was based on cardiovascular reflex tests (deep breathing and squatting).

Results.  The results of the quantitative sensory testing examination showed pathological changes in about 20% of women with FSD; the tests were abnormal in about 5% of women in the group without FSD. The percentage of women with abnormalities of autonomic cardiovascular tests was higher in the group with FSD compared with the group without FSD.

Conclusions.  Our results suggest an involvement of both somatic and autonomic nerve fibers in nondiabetic women with FSD. Esposito K, Ciotola M, Giugliano F, Carleo D, Schisano B, Maglione E, Di Tommaso D, De Sio M, and Giugliano D. Quantitative sensory and autonomic testing in nondiabetic women with sexual dysfunction. J Sex Med 2007;4:1367–1372.