Effects of Ospemifene on Brain Activation Patterns in Women With Sexual Interest-arousal Disorders

  • End date
    Dec 1, 2022
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Hospital Clinic of Barcelona
Updated on 19 February 2021


Ospemifene is the first oral and non-hormonal treatment for moderate or severe vulvo-vaginal atrophy (VVA) in postmenopausal women who are not candidates to treatment with local oestrogens. Its effects are mediated though the regeneration of the proportion of superficial and intermediate cells of the vagina, improving menopausal symptomatology such as dryness and dyspareunia.

Only two studies to date have directly compared brain activation patterns in women with normal sexual function with women complaining with hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Arnow et al. demonstrated that women with normal sexual function showed brain activations in multiple regions different from women with FSIAD. When comparing the two groups, women with normal sexual function showed greater activation of the bilateral entorhinal cortex while women with FSIAD exhibited greater activation of the medial frontal gyrus, right inferior frontal gyrus, and bilateral putamen. The medial frontal gyrus activation has been associated with self-monitoring; thus, it is possible that women with FSIAD allocate more attention to monitoring their response, which may be inhibitory to sexual functioning. The other study was done by Woodard and colleges showing that women with normal sexual function showed significantly differences on cerebral activation in comparison with women with FSIAD.

These differences observed in women with FSIAD could suggest that they may have alterations in activation of limbic and cortical structures responsible for acquiring, encoding, and retrieving memory, the processing and memory of emotional reactions, and areas responsible for heightened attention to one's own physical state.

For this reason the authors believe that it is essential to determine if the effect of ospemifene on the improvement on sexual function is due to the improvement on the vagina tract or due to its effect on brain function.


To evaluate changes from baseline in brain activation patterns, by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques and sexual stimuli, in postmenopausal women with moderate to severe vulvovaginal atrophy and FSIAD after 3 months treatment with ospemifene 60mg/day compared to those treated with placebo. fMRI technique allows the study of brain activation by detecting brain blood flow and oxygen level dependent changes induced by neuronal activation.

The brain activation patterns will be defined by the number of voxels that significantly changed their signal intensity during the stimuli presentation compared to the neutral stimuli. Brain connectivity will be evaluated by using the activation map and the atlas of neuroanatomic regions and comparing the number of voxels, its level of significance and the different regions activated.

Brain activation patterns changes (with fMRI) after sexual stimuli (visual or olfactive), in postmenopausal women with moderate to severe VVA and FSIAD after 3 months treatment with ospemifene 60mg/day compared to those treated with placebo.

During the fMRI session, the activation of each brain circuits/pattern is measured by the blood-oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal and with the Statistical Parametric Mapping method regularly used in fMRI studies to visualize brain activation.

For the longitudinal study, a paired t-test will be used within each group to detect changes in activation over time. The statistical threshold criterion to compare the different activation maps between both groups is p < 0.001 uncorrected with a minimum extent of 10 voxels. Only clusters that survive a p < 0.05 FWE (family wise error) correction for multiple comparisons will be considered statistically significant The region of interests who were mainly observed are: medial occipital gyrus, anterior cingulate cortex, bilateral thalamus, caudate nucleus, left pale globe, cerebellum, left inferior parietal lobe, postcentral gyrus, praecuneus, right medial frontal gyrus and left praecuneus.

A total of 20 consecutive postmenopausal women with moderate to severe VVA and FSIAD with symptomatology will be recruited to participate in the study, 10 of which will be randomised to the ospemifene group (VVA-FSIAD ospemifene group) and 10 will be randomised to the placebo group (VVA-FSIAD placebo group). Additionally, a total of 5 consecutive postmenopausal women with moderate to severe VVA not treated with ospemifene neither with any other VVA treatment and without FSIAD will also be recruited (VVA not treated patients without FSIAD).

Condition Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause, vulvovaginal signs and symptoms, Sexual; Disorder, Arousal, Female, Sexual; Disorder, Arousal, Female, Sexual; Disorder, Arousal, Female, Sexual; Disorder, Arousal, Female, Sexual; Disorder, Arousal, Female, Sexual; Disorder, Arousal, Female
Treatment Ospemifene 60 mg, Ospemifene 60 mg, fMRI experiments
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04677491
SponsorHospital Clinic of Barcelona
Last Modified on19 February 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Women 40 year old or older who have been diagnosed with menopause (either chemical, surgical or natural menopause)
No menstruation for at least a year
Moderate or severe VVA diagnosis (defined by the presence of 5% of superficial cells and vaginal pH > 5)
For homogenisation of brain patterns, women had to be right-handed
Women should be strictly heterosexual, in a stable relationship of at least 1 year duration (with expectations of remaining with the same relationship), and have had experience viewing sexually explicit images
For the FSIAD groups, women will be included if they are diagnosed with FSIAD, defined according to the criteria of DSM-V and confirmed by a structured clinical interview and by means of the scores of the SFQ and the FSDS-R (with a score of 20 for FSFI and 15 for the FSDS-R, respectively). These criteria will be an exclusion criterion for women without FSIAD
Informed written consent of the patient

Exclusion Criteria

Women with known history of mental illness, history of drug or alcohol abuse
Women with VVA treatment (oestrogens or ospemifene) at any time during the last 6 months, and/or laser treatment at any time during the last year
Use of medication or herbal preparations at any time during the last 3 months for the purpose of improving sexual performance
Women who have received any medication previous to the study inclusion, that may alter or interfere with brain activation patterns (psychoactive drugs)
Women with history of sexual offenses
Women with abnormal vision that would impair the visualisation of the images and the olfactory stimuli
Women with claustrophobia or implants that would preclude fMRI procedures
Women with diagnosis of depression assessed by PHQ self-administered questionnaire
Patients who had undergone vaginal surgery in the last 12 months
Women who did not sign the written informed consent
Hypersensitivity to the active substance or to any of the excipients included in Senshio
Past or active history of venous thromboembolic events (VTE), including deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and retinal vein thrombosis
Unexplained vaginal bleeding
Patients with suspected breast cancer or who are receiving active treatment (including adjuvant treatment) for breast cancer
Suspicion of neoplasia or active neoplasia dependent on sex hormones (eg endometrial cancer)
Patients with signs or symptoms of endometrial hyperplasia; In this group of patients, safety has not been studied
Clear my responses

How to participate?

Step 1 Connect with a study center
What happens next?
  • You can expect the study team to contact you via email or phone in the next few days.
  • Sign up as volunteer to help accelerate the development of new treatments and to get notified about similar trials.

You are contacting

Investigator Avatar

Primary Contact



Additional screening procedures may be conducted by the study team before you can be confirmed eligible to participate.

Learn more

If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

Learn more

Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

Learn more

Similar trials to consider


Not finding what you're looking for?

Every year hundreds of thousands of volunteers step forward to participate in research. Sign up as a volunteer and receive email notifications when clinical trials are posted in the medical category of interest to you.

Sign up as volunteer

user name

Added by • 



Reply by • Private

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur, adipisicing elit. Ipsa vel nobis alias. Quae eveniet velit voluptate quo doloribus maxime et dicta in sequi, corporis quod. Ea, dolor eius? Dolore, vel!

  The passcode will expire in None.

No annotations made yet

Add a private note
  • abc Select a piece of text from the left.
  • Add notes visible only to you.
  • Send it to people through a passcode protected link.
Add a private note