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Localized brain metabolite changes during visual sexual stimulation in postmenopausal women: a pilot study using functional magnetic resonance spectroscopy

Kim, Tae-Hoon PhD1; Kang, Heoung-Keun MD1,2; Park, Kwangsung MD, PhD3; Jeong, Gwang-Woo MPh, PhD1,2

doi: 10.1097/GME.0b013e318291f816
Original Articles

Objective Functional magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to compare brain metabolite changes between nonpostmenopausal and postmenopausal women exposed to visual sexual stimulation with erotic video clips.

Methods Twenty nonpostmenopausal women and 20 postmenopausal women were enrolled in this study. Menopause was defined as continuous amenorrhea for more than 12 months and a follicle-stimulating hormone level higher than 40 mIU/mL. Brain metabolite concentrations were measured from a localized voxel on the anterior cingulate gyrus, one of the most important areas associated with sexual arousal. Subjective sexual arousal and attention to visual stimulation were assessed using a 5-point scale. Functional magnetic resonance spectroscopy data were acquired from nonpostmenopausal and postmenopausal women during rest and activation conditions.

Results Compared with nonpostmenopausal women, postmenopausal women showed significantly lower levels of both βγ-glutamate/glutamine and lipid during the “rest” period but had lower levels of βγ-glutamate/glutamine only during the “activation” period (P < 0.05).

Conclusions This study finds differential brain metabolite changes during visual sexual arousal in nonpostmenopausal and postmenopausal women. These findings would be helpful in understanding the neural mechanism of visual sexual arousal in connection with brain metabolite changes after menopause.

From the 1Research Institute of Medical Imaging and Departments of 2Radiology and 3Urology, Chonnam National University Hospital, Chonnam National University Medical School, Gwangju, Republic of Korea.

Received December 20, 2012; revised and accepted March 4, 2013.

Funding/support: This work was supported by a Korea Science and Engineering Foundation grant funded by the Korean Government (Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology), the National Research Foundation of Korea (2009-0077677 and 2011-0016291), and a Korea Research Foundation grant funded by the Korean Government (Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development; KRF-2007-313-D00994).

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Gwang-Woo Jeong, MPh, PhD, Department of Radiology, Chonnam National University Hospital, Chonnam National University Medical School, 42 Jebongro, Dong-gu, Gwangju 501-575, Republic of Korea. E-mail:

© 2014 by The North American Menopause Society.