The oral medication gabapentin can increase sexual desire and satisfaction for women with chronic pain or discomfort around the vulva, according to US researchers.
They found improved sexual function in women treated with the drug, which is normally given for epilepsy, neuropathic pain and occasionally migraine.
“Our theory was that reducing pelvic floor muscle pain might reduce vulvodynia pain overall”
Their study, which was the first to analyse sexual function in women with vulva pain treated with gabapentin, has been published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The women in the study were diagnosed with provoked vulvodynia, a chronic pain syndrome that is characterised by symptoms such as stinging, burning, irritation or itching at the entry to the vagina.
The pain usually occurs with contact, such as from tampon insertion or intercourse, which can lead to sexual dysfunction, noted the researchers.
The researchers studied 230 women, who had an average age of 37 and, for most, had the condition for more than five years.
They experienced less pain and improved sexual desire, arousal and satisfaction after using the oral medication, said the researchers.
However, their overall sexual function remained lower than women without this pain disorder.
Source: John O’Boyle
Lead study author Gloria Bachmann, director of the Women’s Health Institute at Rutgers University, said: “Previous studies have suggested gabapentin reduces the pain of fibromyalgia, a chronic condition that includes widespread pain in various parts of the body.
“Our theory was that reducing pelvic floor muscle pain might reduce vulvodynia pain overall and thus improve sexual function,” she said.
She added: “We found that women with greater muscle pain responded better in terms of pain and improved arousal than those with less pain, which suggests that gabapentin be considered for treatment in women who have significant muscle tightness and spasm in the pelvic region.”