Kisspeptin — a naturally occurring hormone — improved sexual responses in men and women in two studies.
Several factors, including physical or psychological health conditions, relationship issues, and hormonal changes, can cause low sex drive in both women and men. In addition, the natural aging process can also impact sexual desire, as well as lifestyle factors such as substance misuse, alcohol consumption, and poor diet.
Sometimes, reduced sexual desire can lead to hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). People with HSDD experience a decreased desire for sex that causes them emotional distress. However, treatments for HSDD are limited and usually involve psychotherapy, mindfulness practices, or medication changes.
Scientists may have uncovered a new treatment option for HSDD. Their research, involving two clinical trials, has found that kisspeptin — a naturally occurring hormone that stimulates the release of other reproductive hormones — may positively affect sexual desire in men and women.
The studies, Effects of Kisspeptin Administration in Women With Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder and Effects of Kisspeptin on Sexual Brain Processing and Penile Tumescence in Men With Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, appear in the journal JAMA Network Open.
To conduct the studies, the scientists administered an IV infusion of kisspeptin or a placebo to 32 heterosexual men aged 21 to 52 years and 32 heterosexual pre-menopausal women aged 19 to 48 years with HSDD. Then, the participants underwent brain MRI scanning, blood tests, and behavioral assessments.
The results showed that in female participants, kisspeptin improved brain activity associated with sexuality and attraction. In addition, female participants that experienced more distress over their low libido showed more improvements in sexual desire-related areas in the brain after kisspeptin administration.
In male participants, kisspeptin significantly improved activity in sexually-related brain networks and also increased penile rigidity by up to 56% compared to the placebo. What’s more, kisspeptin also increased men’s feelings of happiness about sex.
Kisspeptin was well-tolerated with no reported adverse effects. Moreover, the study authors say that in addition to injection, kisspeptin can also be administered intranasally.
However, the authors note that further research should include a more generalized population, including participants of different sexual orientations. They also hope to investigate kisspeptin therapy for sexual disorders that have a psychological origin.
Overall, the scientists suggest that their findings provide evidence that kisspeptin is a potentially effective therapy for people with emotionally distressing low libido. They also say their results lay the groundwork for kisspeptin-based treatments for men and women with HSDD.