Heart rate variability refers to differences in the length of time between consecutive heartbeats and women with a low heart rate variability are more likely to suffer from sexual dysfunction, claims a study.
"Our study indicated that low heart rate variability might place women at risk for sexual arousal problems and overall sexual difficulties," said lead researcher Amelia Stanton of The University of Texas at Austin in the US.
"Given that low resting heart rate variability has been associated with depression, anxiety and alcohol dependence, it is not surprising that it may also predict female sexual dysfunction."
The results suggest that monitoring of heart rate variability could be a cost effective, easy to administer and non-intrusive index that clinicians can use to assess potential sexual dysfunction and to monitor treatment progress.
This might especially be valuable when treating female patients who suffer from sexual arousal dysfunction as well as heart problems, said the study published in Springer's journal Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.
Stanton's team analyzed data from 72 women aged 18 to 39 years who had previously participated in three experiments conducted at The University of Texas in Austin.
During these studies, their heart rate variability and sexual functioning (specifically physiological arousal and overall sexual function, which includes domains like lubrication, pain, and satisfaction) were measured while the women watched a neutral film clip followed by an erotic one.
It was found that women with below average heart rate variability are significantly more likely to report sexual arousal dysfunction and overall sexual dysfunction than others.
There is already an established link between resting heart rate variability and erectile dysfunction in men.