‘Sex hormone’ boosts arousal & romantic love, UK scientists discover
Researchers at Imperial College London believe an injection of the hormone, called ‘kisspeptin,’ could stimulate sexual arousal and romance in the brain after early-stage trials yielded positive results.
They speculate the naturally occurring hormone, which is essential to the body’s reproductive system, could help people overcome psychosexual problems in the future.
Scientists gave kisspeptin injections to 29 healthy young men and found the hormone increased the brain’s response to pictures of couples in romantic or sexual situations.
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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans showed how regions of the brain stimulated by romance and sexual arousal experienced enhanced activity.
This ‘love boost’ did not take place when the men viewed non-sexual images.
Research lead Professor Waljit Dhillo said the results were encouraging, meaning the hormone could be used to treat emotional factors which can lead to infertility.
“Our initial findings are novel and exciting as they indicate that kisspeptin plays a role in stimulating some of the emotions and responses that lead to sex and reproduction,” said Dhillo.
“Ultimately, we are keen to look into whether kisspeptin could be an effective treatment for psychosexual disorders, and potentially help countless couples who struggle to conceive.”
Scientists also found kisspeptin reduces negative moods, as it also increases activity in areas of the brain associated with maternal and unconditional love.
“Our study shows that kisspeptin boosts sexual and romantic brain activity as well as decreasing negative mood,” report co-author Alexander Comninos said.
“This raises the interesting possibility that kisspeptin may have uses in treating psychosexual disorders and depression which are major health problems which often occur together, but further studies would be needed to investigate this.
“The team, whose findings were reported in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, plans to study the effects of kisspeptin in a larger group including women as well as men.”