Who would not want to enjoy an exciting coital life? Unfortunately, some men struggle in the bedroom due to low libido brought on by psychological reasons. For such men, not all may be lost as a new study suggests that the hormone, kisspeptin, could boost their diminished copulatory urges.

According to a study by researchers from Imperial College London, kisspeptin was found to boost the brain pathways associated with human sexual attraction. The finding may serve as a respite for men who suffer from low sexual desire as a result of psychosexual disorders.

"Our study shows that kisspeptin can boost brain activity related to attraction and intriguingly this boosting effect is even greater in men with a low sexual quality of life," said Dr Alexander Comninos, co-senior author of the study, in a statement.

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Psychosexual disorders

Yes, it is a real issue and affects one in three people worldwide in a multitude of ways. Not only is the quality of sex life affected but also interpersonal relationships and fertility, which worsens the struggle. One of the most common casualties of such disorders is the loss of sex drive or libido, which is often associated with stress, relationship concerns, and may also be symptomatic of deeper medical issues such as reduced hormonal levels. Treatment options are also limited to these disorders.

Highlighting the importance of the study in this area, Comninos said, "Psychosexual disorders have a major detrimental impact on wellbeing and can be highly distressing not only to those affected but also their partners. Despite the high numbers of people with these disorders, there are currently limited treatment options."

What is Kisspeptin?

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It is a hormone that is naturally found in the brain and plays an important role in puberty and reproduction. Also, it has a key role in the regulation of kidney function and tumour suppression. Foods such as chocolate also known to contain the kisspeptin.

Earlier studies have shown that kisspeptin enhances the manner in which sexual arousal is processed by the body. In this study, the researchers tried to explore the hormone's effect further by trying to glean if it could stimulate the regions in the brain associated with attraction in men. "This builds on our previous work that identified a role for kisspeptin in sexual arousal," said Comninos.

A shot of kisspeptin

The study was a double-blind, randomised and placebo-controlled trial. From 2018-19, 33 heterosexual men between the ages of 18-34 were given a placebo or infusion of kisspeptin. After being made to smell a perfume—Chanel No 5, which earlier studies have found to be associated with sexual arousal—the participants were placed in an MRI scanner.

They were also made to view the faces of females. During the course of this process, the brains of the participants were scanned to ascertain the effect kisspeptin had on the brain's responses to the faces and the perfume.

Improved attraction to female scent and faces

It was found that when compared to the placebo, kisspeptin amplified attraction pathways of the brain while smelling the perfume and viewing female faces. Thereby, suggesting that the hormone boosts attraction to scents and faces of women—primary steps in the process of attraction. "Now we have found that kisspeptin may actually enhance the processing of smell and facial attraction, which are often the first steps to sexual arousal," added Comninos.

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The most interesting finding, however, was that the effect of kisspeptin on the attraction pathways was higher in men whose sexual life was of lower quality. On the key finding that could improve the sexual lives of several men affected by limiting disorders, Prof. Waljit Dhillo, co-senior author of the study, said, "This new finding helps us further understand the brain activity of people with psychosexual disorders which could lead to therapeutic targets."

Potential to serve as part of future therapies

With promising evidence to suggest the potential of kisspeptin to increase libido and carry the study forward, the researchers believe that the hormone could play an important role in formulating therapies to treat psychosexual disorders

Expressing hope about its potential, Comninos said, "We hope our growing understanding of how kisspeptin boosts parts of the brain involved in attraction and arousal can ultimately lead to new ways of treating people affected. However, we still have a long way to go."