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What if the Female Viagra Isnt Medicine At All

Maybe kinky folks who like a little electric stimulation in their sex lives are on to something: a new pilot study out of the University of Michigan has found that applying an electric current to your ankle might boost sex drive in women.
 
That may sound like little more than a titillating theory, but researchers had reason to believe it would work: ankle electrodes, applied near the tibular nerve, had been studied in women with overactive bladders — and those women anecdotally reported that the treatments increased their sexual arousal, explains Priyanka Gupta, M.D., an assistant professor of urology at the University of Michigan and one of the study’s co-authors. “That’s what prompted our interest,” she tells InStyle.

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And so far, the theory is continuing to look promising. In the experiment, nine women received a current on their ankle for 30 minutes at a time over 12 sessions. Eight of the nine said their arousal, orgasm, and vaginal lubrication improved. “Our hypothesis is that, by sending a constant vibration to that nerve, we can override the ‘abnormal’ signals,” like a lack of desire, Gupta says. “Basically, we can help normalize the signals going to the pelvic organs.”
 
OK, but let’s back up: why does a nerve in your ankle affect your genitals at all? And how did they come up with the idea to get electricity involved? Gupta says it’s because the tibular nerve runs all the way up to your spine, controlling your bladder and your bowels. And the idea to shock it actually came from acupuncture. “For years, acupuncturists have used the tibular nerve as a pressure point to treat the bladder,” she explains. “[We thought] if we provided an electric stimulation to that nerve, we might be able to reduce an overactive bladder.” And, it worked!

RELATED: How to Get Your Sex Toy Through TSA
 
One very important thing to note, though: On the sex-drive front, this treatment is only being considered for serious arousal issues. All nine women in the study had female sexual dysfunction (FSD), a diagnosable condition that involves major difficulties becoming aroused, getting lubricated, and reaching orgasm. “[This is really for] people who meet diagnostic criteria, rather than, say, someone who has less libido than their partner,” says Gupta. 

And we’re probably a ways off from anyone being able to try it at home. “I think this is interesting but very, very preliminary,” says Irwin Goldstein, M.D., the director of San Diego Sexual Medicine. Gupta agrees. “There’s a very limited understanding of female sexual disorders — there’s still a lot to be learned about what causes them. This is a beginning exploration,” she explains. And while she thinks we’re still a few years away from women with FSD being able to try this at home, the possibility does exist.

“There’s a lot of interest in therapy for overactive bladder, and they’re in the process of trying to be make it be doable at home. If we’re able to prove and continue to do this, we’d be starting with women who have [diagnosed FSD], but this does tell us there can be options for them that are not medication.” Dare we say, this option sounds a little bit … sexy?

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