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Keywords:

  • Age;
  • Sexuality;
  • Depression;
  • Ultrasound;
  • Doppler

ABSTRACT

Introduction.  A decline in sexual activity has been reported as women age.

Aim.  To compare, in young adult and middle-aged women, the clitoral volumetric and vascular modifications during the periovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle, and to analyze their relationship with circulating hormones, nitric oxide levels, and with questionnaires on sexuality, relationship, and depression.

Methods.  Fifteen young (18–25 years; Group I), and 16 middle-aged (35–45 years; Group II) eumenorrheic women were submitted, on day 14 of their menstrual cycle, to utero-ovarian and clitoral ultrasonographic analysis, and to color Doppler evaluation of the uterine and dorsal clitoral arteries. On the same day, hormonal parameters and plasma concentrations of nitrites/nitrates were assayed, and the two-factor Italian McCoy female questionnaire and the Beck's Depression Inventory questionnaire were administered.

Main Outcomes Measures.  Utero-ovarian and clitoral ultrasonographic analysis, color Doppler evaluation of the uterine and dorsal clitoral arteries; evaluation of hormonal and nitrites/nitrates plasma concentrations; administration of the two-factor Italian McCoy Female Sexuality Questionnaire and the Beck's Depression Inventory questionnaire.

Results.  The plasma levels of estradiol, testosterone, sex hormone binding globulin, and nitrites/nitrates were similar in both groups. Neither the ultrasonographic assessment of the clitoral body volume (0.82 ± 0.24 mL vs. 0.73 ± 0.26 mL) nor the Doppler analysis of the dorsal clitoral artery [pulsatility index (PI) = 1.35 ± 0.31 vs. PI = 1.36 ± 0.19] evidenced any significant differences in either Group I or Group II. The two-factor Italian McCoy Female Sexuality Questionnaire and the Beck Depression Inventory questionnaire gave the same results in Group I and Group II. The relationship between the different parameters evidenced that the NO2−/NO3− circulating levels are inversely correlated with uterine artery (r = −0.4611; P = 0.008) and dorsal clitoral artery (r = −0.331; P = 0.041) PIs. Furthermore, estradiol resulted inversely correlated with depression (r = −0.332; P = 0.045). The two sections (sexuality and partnership) of Italian McCoy Female Sexuality Questionnaire were positively correlated (r = 0.849; P < 0.0001) between each other.

Conclusions.  In eumenorrheic young adult and middle-aged women, the periovulatory clitoral anatomic and vascular modifications similarly occur. Battaglia C, Nappi RE, Cianciosi A, Busacchi P, Sisti G, Paradisi R, and Venturoli S. Periovulatory morphometric and vascular modifications of the clitoris in young adult and middle-aged women. A pilot study. J Sex Med 2009;6:2707–2714.