Sexual Dysfunction (Female)

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Superficial Siderosis female patient sexual dysfunction (FSD) is the result of autonomic peripheral neuropathy damage of the nerves in the pelvic and sacral regions. The most common problems include reduced libido, reduced vaginal lubrication, and difficulty achieving orgasm ¹.

The female sexual function requires the interaction of areas of both the central and peripheral somatic and autonomic nervous system. There is a strong correlation between urinary incontinence and FSD. The sacral reflex arc and upper motor neurons must be intact for a woman to achieve orgasm and feel sexual desire. Cerebral sympathetic outflow is thought to increase desire, while peripheral parasympathetic activity results in clitoral vasocongestion and vaginal secretion (lubrication).

The neurotransmitters for clitoral engorgement work the same way as for men. A fine network of vaginal nerves and arterioles control vaginal response. An intact sensation is required for arousal. Impaired levels of sexual functioning are more common in women with peripheral neuropathies than men.

Just as a man who has erectile dysfunction due to autonomic peripheral neuropathy might need to turn to a penile vacuum device the same option is available for women with arousal and orgasmic difficulties. Superficial Siderosis patients might explore using a clitoral vacuum device. This handheld battery-operated device has a small soft plastic cup that applies a vacuum over the stimulated clitoris. This causes increased cavernosal blood flow, engorgement, and vaginal lubrication.

Sexual dysfunction can be a major quality-of-life issue for women. Partners should consider methods to encourage a positive emotional and physical outcome.

 

 

 

¹Lilius et al., 1976; Tepavcevic et al., 2008
Berard, E.J. The sexuality of spinal cord injured women: physiology and pathophysiology. A review. Paraplegia. 1989; 27: 99–112

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