Hormone kisspeptin improves sex drive in both men and women

Trials within the UK show that men and women's sex drives benefit from increased levels of kisspeptin

Rhys James
14th February 2023
Image credit: Rawpixel
Two small trials from UK researchers have suggested that giving the hormone kisspeptin to men and women can help boost their brains sexual activity and stimulate key areas linked to sexual desire.

Kisspeptin is a naturally-occurring hormone which has been implicated in ovarian function, fertility regulation and lactation. The studies published in JAMA Network Open reported that giving men and women increased levels of kisspeptin can boost sexual responses in both sexes who are known to have hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), a condition of low sexual desire.

In the studies, consisting of 32 heterosexual males and 32 heterosexual females, participants were on one occasion hooked up to a kisspeptin drip and on another occasion a fake drip. The participants were then monitored using an MRI scanner to analyse their mood, behaviour and brain activity while watching erotic videos. The male participant’s penises were also measured for rigidity at the same time.

Dr Comninos found that kisspeptin improved activity in key brain regions linked to sexual desire in both the men and women participants, and that penile rigidity increased by up to 56% when the male participants were given kisspeptin. Further, the participants who were most distressed by their low sex drives; an issue which affects 10% of the population, showed the greatest improvements. Overall, women recorded feeling “more sexy” while on the kisspeptin drip and the men reported having improved feelings of “happiness about sex”.

Dr Comninos went on the say that “Our two studies provide proof-of-concept for the development of kisspeptin treatments, as we provide the first evidence that kisspeptin is a potentially safe and effective therapy for both women and men with distressing low sexual desire.”

While the findings from these trials cannot be confirmed yet, previous research into the hormone has confirmed that it stimulates the release of reproductive hormones and plays a vital part in puberty. However, larger trials will need to take place before any conclusive statements can be made.

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