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Short- and Long-term Effects of Ginkgo Biloba Extract on Sexual Dysfunction in Women

Abstract

Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) facilitates blood flow, influences nitric oxide systems, and has a relaxant effect on smooth muscle tissue. These processes are important to the sexual response in women and, hence, it is feasible that GBE may have a therapeutic effect. The present study was the first to provide an empirical examination of the effects of both short- and long-term GBE administration on subjective and physiological (vaginal photoplethysmography) measures of sexual function in women with Sexual Arousal Disorder. A single dose of 300 mg GBE had a small but significant facilitatory effect on physiological, but not subjective, sexual arousal compared to placebo in 99 sexually dysfunctional women. The long-term effects of GBE on sexual function were assessed in 68 sexually dysfunctional women who were randomly assigned to 8 weeks treatment of either (1) GBE (300 mg/daily), (2) placebo, (3) sex therapy which focused on training women to attend to genital sensations, or (4) sex therapy plus GBE. When combined with sex therapy, but not alone, long-term GBE treatment significantly increased sexual desire and contentment beyond placebo. Sex therapy alone significantly enhanced orgasm function compared with placebo. Long-term GBE administration did not significantly enhance arousal responses beyond placebo. It was concluded that (1) neither short- or long-term administration of GBE alone substantially impacts sexual function in women, (2) a substantial placebo effect on sexual function exists in women with sexual concerns, and (3) teaching women to focus on genital sensations during sex enhances certain aspects of women’s sexual functioning.

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    The therapist manual is available from the corresponding author upon request.

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Acknowledgments

This publication was made possible by Grant Number 5 RO1 AT00224-02 from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to Cindy Meston. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The authors wish to thank Jessica Davis for her assistance in all phases of this investigation.

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Correspondence to Cindy M. Meston.

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Meston, C.M., Rellini, A.H. & Telch, M.J. Short- and Long-term Effects of Ginkgo Biloba Extract on Sexual Dysfunction in Women. Arch Sex Behav 37, 530–547 (2008) doi:10.1007/s10508-008-9316-2

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Keywords

  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Female sexual dysfunction
  • Sex therapy
  • Vaginal photoplethysmography