Physiology and mechanics of rat levator ani muscle: Evidence for a sexual function

Gregory M. Holmes, Benjamin D. Sachs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The levator ani (LA) of male rodents is a classic model tissue for the study of hormone-muscle interactions, although its functions remain unknown. Recordings during copulation from chronic electromyographic (EMG) electrodes in the LA and bulbospongiosus (BS) revealed that EMG activity in the LA and BS was tightly coordinated. The LA was not active during noncopulatory behaviors, including the 1-min interval surrounding defecation. Electrical stimulation of the LA motor nerves increased penile bulb pressure. Increases in penile bulb pressure following BS nerve stimulation were markedly attenuated after LA denervation and were reduced further by LA removal. Stimulation of the LA nerve yielded insignificant changes in rectal pressure. Perineal motion analysis demonstrated that the LA acts upon the penile bulb and the surrounding BS exclusively. Apparently the rodent LA muscle is an active component in a highly coordinated neuromuscular system augmenting penile erection and, contrary to its name, is most unlikely to participate in alimentary function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-266
Number of pages12
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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