Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation to Improve Female Sexual Dysfunction Symptoms: A Pilot Study

Neuromodulation. 2018 Oct;21(7):707-713. doi: 10.1111/ner.12846. Epub 2018 Sep 3.


Objectives: To perform a pilot study using transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) on the dorsal genital nerve and the posterior tibial nerve for improving symptoms of female sexual dysfunction (FSD) in women without bladder problems. We hypothesize that this therapy will be effective at improving genital arousal deficits.

Materials and methods: Nine women with general FSD completed the study. Subjects received 12 sessions of transcutaneous dorsal genital nerve stimulation (DGNS; n = 6) or posterior tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS; n = 3). Stimulation was delivered for 30 min at 20 Hz. Sexual functioning was evaluated with the female sexual functioning index (FSFI), and surveys were also given on general health, urological functioning, and the Patients' Global Impression of Change (PGIC) after treatment. Surveys were given before treatment (baseline), after 6 and 12 weeks of treatment, and 6 weeks after the completion of stimulation sessions.

Results: The average total FSFI score across all subjects significantly increased from 15.3 ± 4.8 at baseline to 20.3 ± 7.8 after six sessions, 21.7 ± 7.5 after 12 sessions, and 21.3 ± 7.1 at study completion (p < 0.05 for all time points). Increases were observed in both DGNS and PTNS subjects. Significant FSFI increases were seen in the subdomains of lubrication, arousal, and orgasm, each of which is related to genital arousal. Bladder and general health surveys did not change across the study. PGIC had a significant increase.

Conclusions: This study provides evidence that transcutaneous stimulation of peripheral nerves has the potential to be a valuable therapeutic tool for women with FSD.

Keywords: Dorsal genital nerve; electrical stimulation; female sexual dysfunction; genital arousal; posterior tibial nerve.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arousal
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Orgasm / physiology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / therapy*
  • Time Factors
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome*
  • Young Adult