Many women have problems with sex at some point in their
life. Researchers at University Of Texas have linked sexual dysfunction in
women to low resting heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is the variation in the
time intervals between a person's consecutive heartbeats.
University Of Texas's Amelia Stanton said, "Because
heart rate variability has been related to many negative mental health and
cardiac problems, it's interesting to bring an established clinical marker into
sex research. However, moderate sympathetic nervous system activation has been
shown to increase women's genital arousal."
Using the Female Sexual Function Index, which considers
domains such as pain, satisfaction and desire, the researcher team analyzed HRV
and self-reported data from 72 women aged 18-39 years to evaluate overall
sexual functioning. Co-author Cindy Meston said, "The Female Sexual
Function Index has been shown to effectively identify women with clinically
significant levels of sexual dysfunction."
The findings also suggested that in addition to overall
sexual dysfunction, women with below average HRV were more likely to experience
difficulties with sexual arousal. With recent support from the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) on what could be the first-ever approved drug for the
treatment of female sexual dysfunction, the researchers believe that HRV could
be used as an index of drug-related changes in sexual function.
Stanton said, "Because evidence shows that low HRV is a
potential risk factor for sexual dysfunction, physicians have a simple,
low-cost and nonintrusive method to measure a woman's risk for sexual
dysfunction. It makes it easier to talk about something a little bit more
private and get women the help that they need."
The study is published in Applied Psychophysiology