Low libido in men – Have researchers discovered the cause and treatment?

Low libido in men – Have researchers discovered the cause and treatment?

Low libido is a very common problem affecting mainly middle-aged men but often younger men as well. It is said that 1 out of 5 men will suffer from loss of libido at some point in their lives. Although doctors use a number of drugs to treat the symptoms of low libido they do not actually treat the cause because the latter hasn’t yet been confirmed. Low libido is considered to be caused by psychological or biological problems. It is also related to low testosterone levels or dysfunction of the thyroid hormone; yet, it has not been clarified so far what the exact cause is.

However, a group of researchers may have discovered the cause as well as the treatment of low libido and loss of sexual drive. According to this new study, the key to the mystery might be buried in the so called “appetite hormone”. A group of Swedish researchers in the University of Gothenburg, conducted a study to examine how the appetite hormone affects sexual activity.

It is well known that the Ghrelin hormone is responsible for the adjustment of appetite and food intake. In fact, Ghrelin regulates the energy homeostasis of our body via hypothalamic ghrelin receptors and activates the brain’s reward system. The latter means that when our body receives “satisfaction”, for example from the use of addictive drugs, sexual interaction or tasty foods, the dopamine system is activated. As a result, the reward mechanisms are activated, because dopamine plays an important role in the regulation of the brain.  Since the brain’s reward system also leads us to be engaged in sexual intercourse, the above process could explain the impact of Ghrelin on sexual behaviour according to this study.

The researchers used male and female mice in the experiments, which were in appropriate age for sexual intercourse and were injected with the “appetite hormone”. The results showed that when the mice were given the hormone they became more energetic and sought for sex soon after the injection.

The study’s findings confirm the role of Ghrelin in the increase of sexual activity and offer promising insights regarding the cause and treatment of low libido. They also contribute to a further understanding of neurochemical mechanisms involved in sexual behaviour. This study of course, may also reveal the cause behind sexual addiction, depending from which perspective the issue is explored.

The most important though according to andrologists is that this study might lead to the treatment of low libido.

Source: The role of ghrelin signalling for sexual behaviour in male miceAddiction Biology, 2015; DOI: 10.1111/adb.12202