Ephedrine-activated physiological sexual arousal in women

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1998 Jul;55(7):652-6. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.55.7.652.


Background: The present investigation was designed to provide the first empirical examination of the effects of ephedrine sulfate, an alpha- and beta-adrenergic agonist, on subjective and physiological sexual arousal in women. The purpose was to help elucidate the effects of increased peripheral adrenergic activity on sexual response in women.

Methods: Twenty sexually functional women participated in 2 experimental conditions in which subjective (self-report) and physiological (vaginal photoplethysmography) sexual responses to erotic stimuli were measured following administration of either ephedrine sulfate (50 mg) or placebo in a randomized, double-blind, cross-over protocol.

Results: Ephedrine significantly (P<.01) increased vaginal pulse amplitude responses to the erotic films and had no significant (P>. 10) effect on subjective ratings of sexual arousal.

Conclusions: Ephedrine can significantly facilitate the initial stages of physiological sexual arousal in women. These findings have implications for deriving new pharmacological approaches to the management of sexual dysfunction in women.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Ephedrine / pharmacology*
  • Ephedrine / therapeutic use
  • Erotica
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Libido / drug effects*
  • Libido / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Placebos
  • Plethysmography
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / drug effects*
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / drug therapy
  • Vagina / blood supply
  • Vagina / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology


  • Adrenergic Agents
  • Placebos
  • Ephedrine