PCOS, Sexuality, and Clitoral Vascularisation: A Pilot Study


Cesare Battaglia, MD, PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Bologna, Via Massarenti, 13, 40138 Bologna, Italy. Tel and Fax: +39-051-6364377; E-mail: cesare.battaglia@unibo.it


Introduction.  In polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) women, the changes in body appearance (mainly obesity and hirsutism) may influence the feminine identity of the patients with consequent depression and sexual disturbances.

Aim.  To evaluate if lean PCOS patients present an increased incidence of depression and sexual dysfunction in comparison with controls and if clitoral volume and vascularization are influenced by circulating androgens levels.

Methods.  25 lean PCOS women (Group I) and 18 healthy nonhirsute volunteers (Group II) were submitted, on day 3–5 of the cycle, to ultrasonographic and Doppler analyses, and to hormonal and biochemical evaluations.

Main Outcome Measures.  Utero-ovarian and clitoral ultrasonographic analysis, and color Doppler evaluation of the uterine, stromal ovarian, and dorsal clitoral arteries. Hormonal and nitrites/nitrates plasma concentrations were analyzed. Each woman filled in the 2-factor Italian McCoy female questionnaire (MFSQ) and the Beck's Depression Inventory questionnaire (BDI).

Results.  Androgens resulted, as expected, more elevated in PCOS patients than in controls. However, the ultrasonographic (US) assessment of the clitoral body volume evidenced no significant differences between PCOS (0.72 ± 0.41 mL) and control (0.62 ± 0.20 mL) patients. The resistances registered at the level of the dorsal clitoral artery did not show any difference between Group I (PI = 1.55 ± 0.40) and Group II (PI = 1.79 ± 0.38). The 2-factor Italian MFSQ and the BDI did not show any difference between PCOS women and controls.

Conclusions.  In PCOS women, probably, the moderate hirsutism and hyperandrogenism do not induce the sense of loss of feminine identity and have no impact on sexual self-worth and sexual satisfaction. Battaglia C, Nappi RE, Mancini F, Cianciosi A, Persico N, Busacchi P, Facchinetti F, and Sisti, G. PCOS, sexuality, and clitoral vascularisation: A pilot study. J Sex Med **;**:**–**.