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Keywords:

  • Autonomic Nervous System;
  • Clinical Neurophysiology;
  • Male Sexual Response;
  • Electrodiagnostic Testing;
  • Evoked Cavernous Activity;
  • Corpus Cavernosum Electromyography

ABSTRACT

Introduction.  Clinical neurophysiology is the study of the human nervous system through the recording of bioelectrical activity. In the realm of male sexual functioning, this includes using electrophysiologic techniques to study the nerves subserving erection, emission, ejaculation, and orgasm.

Aim.  To introduce the reader to the principles of clinical neurophysiology as they relate to the male sexual response, particularly erection.

Methods.  We review the pertinent autonomic neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of reflexes relevant to the male sexual response, as well as summarize the genital electrodiagnostic tests that are being used to interrogate the autonomic innervation pertinent to male sexual functioning.

Conclusions.  The male sexual response is a coordinated series of interactions between the somatic and the autonomic nervous systems. Measurement of the autonomically mediated portions of the sexual reflexes is of great clinical interest, particularly in relation to erection. Advances in clinical electrodiagnostics now allow for consistent recording of evoked and spontaneous intrapenile electrical activity. However, before broad and widespread use of these techniques is possible, more investigations are needed. Yang CC, and Jiang X. Clinical autonomic neurophysiology and the male sexual response: An overview. J Sex Med 2009;6(suppl 3):221–228.