Sex and heart: there is a strong bond not only on the sentimental level, but also on that of health. An indicator linking sex and heart disease found. In fact, sexual well-being is an indicator of metabolic and cardiovascular conditions. For men, an erectile dysfunction problem can indicate hidden heart disease. But, for women, is there a similar indicator? It would seem so, and the scientist behind this discovery was Carmine Gazzaruso – head of the Service of diabetology and endocrine-metabolic diseases of the Beato Matteo Clinical Institute in Vigevano (Pavia) – who has discovered a new parameter to study sexuality and cardiovascular risk in women. The study, published in the journal Endocrine, International Journal of Basic and Clinical Endocrinology, aimed to identify a reliable indicator for the evaluation of clitoral oxygenation.
Already in 2004 Gazzaruso had observed the correlation, in humans, between sexual problems related to failure to erect and occult cardiovascular diseases. So, starting from the hypothesis that a similar correlation may exist in women, the idea of Gazzaruso was to place an electrode – a small sensor usually used for newborn babies – on the clitoris. What was the goal? The doctor and his research team wanted to evaluate exactly how much oxygen is transported into the clitoris. The first essential step is to establish what the normal value of clitoral oxygenation is and the influence that different oxygen values can have on women’s sexual, metabolic and cardiovascular health. The hypothesis was that there is a connection between the difficulty in having sex, due to an abnormal vascularization of the clitoris, and the presence of cardiovascular pathologies, exactly as happens in man.
Measuring oxygen pressure is a non-invasive method for assessing tissue perfusion. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether the transmucosal oxygen tension (TmPO2) could be measured on the mucous surface of the clitoris and if the measurements were reliable. The measurement, developed by Dr. Gazzaruso, was reliable and paves the way for a pilot study to verify the effective link between oxygenation of the clitoris and heart health, which already sees the enrollment of 100 apparently healthy patients and the involvement of other centers.
In common perception, women are less prone to cardiovascular disease than men. If this can be true up to 40-50 years of age, when the woman’s heart is protected from estrogen released into the body with the menstrual cycle, things change drastically with menopause, when the release of these female hormones stops.
Therefore, their protective function on the arteries also ceases and, in the presence of important risk factors, cardiovascular diseases develop which make their effects felt in old age, around 70 years old, against 50-60 men. For example, ischemic heart disease is the major cause of death for western women, while coronary heart disease, the arteries of the heart, kill more women than men in Italy. So the problems come later, but they are generally more serious and with a more difficult recovery (revascularization).