Zapping the ankles of women could give them a much-needed boost to their libido in middle age, a promising study suggests.
Up to half of women are struck down with female sexual dysfunction (FSD) as they grow older, figures show.
The common condition leaves women with a diminished sex drive and can even rob them of their ability to orgasm.
But the new breakthrough, tested on nine women with FSD, offers hope of a cure and brings scientists closer to the Holy Grail of a female Viagra.
The University of Michigan team already proved their technique worked on mice, and decided to ramp up their scientific efforts.
Each woman received 12 half-hour sessions once a week of the electrode stimulation for the study, published in Neuromodulation.
They either received the zap near the tibial nerve on one of their ankles – the same as what was given to the mice – or in their genital area.
One of the women involved in the study described the experience as a ‘bizarre, pressure vibration sensation’.
But she admitted that ‘you get used to it’. She added that she eventually brought a book to read during her 30-minute sessions.
Eight of the women revealed they found it easier to get aroused, had more natural lubrication and had more intense orgasms after the zapping.
Dr. Tim Bruns, who led the experiment on the women and was behind the previous trial conducted on rats, branded it a success.
He said, “Across a variety of clinical studies if you get a 50 percent improvement in symptoms, you can consider that a successful response. We had four participants meet or exceed that threshold.”
One participant even admitted the treatment worked for her in an interview.
She told the research team, “I’m not 100 percent back to the way I was, but I can have orgasms again and they are pretty good ones.”
It is thought that stimulation of the ankle works because nerves that travel down to the foot overlap near the spinal cord with those that head to the pelvic organs.
Dr. Bruns revealed the overall improvement in FSD was similar to other promising drugs currently under further investigation.
However, he and his team have called for bigger trials of their form of electrode stimulation to make sure the results stack up.
Dr. Priyanka Gupta, involved in the study, said: ‘This study presents an alternative method for treating FSD that is non-pharmacologic and non-invasive.”
“Through studies like this, we can further understand female sexual arousal and offer treatments for a disorder that has very few options,” she added.
This year marks 20 years since the little blue pill – Viagra – provided an instant fix for men who struggled to achieve an erection.
However, despite their efforts, scientists have so far been unable to produce as successful a pill to help women feel more in the mood.