New research provides evidence that kisspeptin may help boost sexual desire in men and women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder, a medical condition characterized by a persistent or recurring lack of sexual fantasies, desires, and feelings. thoughts that lead to problems in intimate relationships. New discoveries appear in JAMA network open.
Kisspeptin is a natural hormone that plays a crucial role in regulating the reproductive system. It is produced in the hypothalamus of the brain and acts on the pituitary gland to stimulate the release of other hormones involved in fertility. The new research suggests that kisspeptin may also play an important role in the psychology of sexual arousal.
“I started researching kisspeptin many years ago in terms of its effects on reproduction,” said study author Alexander Comninos, consultant and honorary lecturer in endocrinology. at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. “When I realized that kisspeptin was also present in many behavioral brain areas, I wanted to explore this question further. Following our identification that kisspeptin can influence behavior, the next natural step was to see if it could help people with related issues.
Comninos and his colleagues conducted two randomized clinical trials, which used a double-blind, two-way crossover, placebo-controlled protocol, at a university research center in the UK. The researchers recruited heterosexual men and women who were preoccupied with and/or afflicted with low sexual desire. Those who met the criteria for hypoactive sexual desire disorder were enrolled in the studies, resulting in a sample of 32 male participants with a mean age of 37.9 years and a sample of 32 female participants with a mean age of 29.2 years old.
The male participants visited the research center twice and received either a kisspeptin infusion or a placebo at each visit. They then performed two video tasks while undergoing brain scans. In one task, they watched short videos that alternated between sexual and non-sexual content for 12 minutes. In the other task, they watched a longer 8-minute video of a heterosexual couple engaging in sexual activity while their physical and subjective arousal was continuously recorded.
The participants, meanwhile, watched 20-second videos of sexual content alternated with non-sexual control videos while undergoing brain scans. They also viewed 60 images of faces and were asked to rate their attractiveness on a 5-point Likert scale. The faces included very attractive and moderately attractive men.
In men, kisspeptin had a significant effect on brain activity in response to sexual visual stimuli compared to a placebo. Specifically, the hormone increased activation in key areas of the brain related to sexual processing, including the left middle frontal gyrus and left anterior cingulate cortex. Kisspeptin also increased activity in two key visual brain regions, the right fusiform gyrus and the bilateral visual cortex.
Additionally, kisspeptin significantly increased penile tumescence, resulting in a higher level of physical arousal than placebo. Kisspeptin also improved the “happiness about sex” reported by men.
In women, researchers found evidence that kisspeptin increased brain activity in areas related to sexual processing and attraction. Women who were more distressed with their sexual function showed increased kisspeptin brain activity in the hippocampus, a brain region that has been implicated in female sexual desire.
The more kisspeptin activated the posterior cingulate cortex in response to attractive male faces, the less sexual aversion was reported by participants. Women also reported feeling “sexier” after receiving kisspeptin compared to placebo.
“Kisspeptin is a potential safe and effective treatment for people seeking help for low sex drive and has a pro-erectile effect in men,” Comninos told PsyPost. “This is just the beginning, but the results so far are promising, especially considering that treatments currently available in the United States for women have limited efficacy and come with unpleasant side effects (such as nausea and drowsiness) and in men there are currently no licensed treatments Viagra is sometimes used but it is primarily a mechanical agent that affects blood flow to the genitals. data suggest that kisspeptin, in addition to having a pro-erectile effect, can significantly improve underlying sexual desire and arousal.
“Study participants underwent MRI during this study,” Comninos said. “It’s clearly not the most comfortable environment and so we were surprised that administering kisspeptin had such a powerful stimulating effect on the sexual tract, behavior and penis in this clinical environment. Hopefully kisspeptin can perform even better in this regard in a more comfortable environment, such as an individual home environment.
Kisspeptin was well tolerated and no side effects or adverse events were reported. But researchers want to explore other routes of administration.
“In this study, we administered kisspeptin by intravenous infusion, which of course is not ideal during sexual intercourse! We are now looking at ways that might be easier to deliver kisspeptin, such as by injection or nasal spray,” Comninos explained.
“It is important to emphasize that this is preliminary work. There is a lot to do. We plan to do larger studies, examine the effects in individuals with different identities and sexualities, and deliver kisspeptin treatments in a simpler way.
The study, “Effects of Kisspeptin on Sexual Brain Processing and Penile Tumescence in Men with Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” was authored by Edouard G. Mills, Natalie Ertl, Matthew B. Wall, Layla Thurston, Lisa Yang, Sofiya Suladze, Tia Hunjan, Maria Phylactou, Bijal Patel, Beatrice Muzi, Dena Ettehad, Paul A. Bassett, Jonathan Howard, Eugenii A. Rabiner, Paul Bech, Ali Abbara, David Goldmeier, Alexander N. Comninos and Waljit S. Dhillo.
The study, “Effects of Kisspeptin Administration in Women with Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” was authored by Layla Thurston, Tia Hunjan, Natalie Ertl, Matthew B. Wall, Edouard G. Mills, Sofiya Suladze, Bjial Patel, Emma C. Alexander, Beatrice Muzi, Paul A. Bassett, Eugenii A. Rabiner, Paul Bech, David Goldmeier, Ali Abbara, Alexander N. Comninos, and Waljit S. Dhillo.