Electrical stimulation (ES) in the management of sexual pain disorders

Rossella E. Nappi, Francesea Ferdeghini, Ileana Abbiati, Claudia Vercesi, Claudio Farina, Franco Polatti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We performed an open study to investigate the use of electrical stimulation (ES) on the vestibular area and vaginal introitus in women with sexual pain disorders. We recruited 29 women (age range 20-45 years) from among the patients at our Reproductive Psychobiology Unit to participate in the present study. They each experienced vestibular pain, inducing dyspareunia and vaginism. We performed ES with an ECL43400 apparatus (Elite, EssediEsse srl, Milan, Italy) once a week for 10 weeks. To evaluate the muscular activity of the perineal floor and sexual function, we employed the same apparatus with a vaginal probe for recording myoelectrical activity (μV), we employed a VAS scale for evaluating pain, and we administered the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI; Rosen et al., 2000) before and after the study protocol. We analyzed data by parametric and nonparametric comparisons and correlations, as appropriate. Our major findings were as follows: (a) the contractile ability of pelvic floor muscles (p <0.001), as well as the resting ability (p <0.001), significantly improved following ES; (b) the current intensity tolerated significantly increased (p <0.001) throughout the study, from 41.3 ± 7.4 mA at the start of the study to 50 ± 7.4 mA at the end of the stimulation protocol; (c) the Visual Analogic Scale (VAS) for pain significantly declined (p <0.001), whereas FSFI pain scores (p <0.001) and full scale scores (p <0.001) significantly improved following ES, and 4 out of 9 women with vaginism went back to coital activity; (d) FSFI pain score and the current intensity tolerated, both before (R = .59; p <0.006) and at the end (R = .53; p <0.02) of the stimulation protocol, positively correlated. ES may be effective in the management of sexual pain disorders. Further controlled studies are necessary to standardize stimulation protocols according to the severity of pain and to better clarify the long-term clinical effects of ES.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-110
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Sex and Marital Therapy
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Clinical Psychology


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