Scientists announce the new hormone kisspeptin as a potential game changer for men and women distressed by their low sex drive.
Both studies on men and women, which were published in the journal JAMA Network Open, found that kisspeptin was effective in treating men and women who experience Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD)—one of the most common forms of low sexual desire.
It’s estimated that 8 percent of men and 10 percent of women worldwide are commonly affected by Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD).
Despite the prevalence of the disease, treatments in men are lacking while options for women are limited, accompany side effects, or are harmful to try.
Hence the lead study author, Dr. Alexander Comninos, and his colleagues at Imperial College London sought a safe and more effective alternative treatment that can help men and women seeking treatment.
Findings from this study provide the first-ever clinical evidence that kisspeptin is safe and beneficial in men and women with low sexual desire.
The team explains that kisspeptin is a naturally occurring hormone that works by stimulating other reproductive hormones in the body.
For men, not only was the kisspeptin treatment found to have a positive impact on the brain, but it also enhanced erection. According to the authors, no particular side effects were associated with the drug overall, as it was well tolerated by both genders.
For the study on women, the researchers involved a total of 32 pre-menopausal heterosexual women with an average age of 29 years. The women completed two visits to receive kisspeptin or a placebo. About half were to receive kisspeptin, and the other half were to receive a placebo on their first visit. They were also given questionnaires to fill out concerning their mood and behavior before and after taking kisspeptin and a placebo.
Participants were made to watch short and long erotic videos as well as attractive male faces while the team used functional MRI to investigate their brain activity. Meanwhile, the control group just watched non-erotic workout videos.
In the end, the team found that women who were more distressed by their overall sexual function and low sexual desire showed higher kisspeptin-enhanced brain activity in the hippocampus—a key structure involved in women’s sexual desire—upon watching short sexual content.
In addition to that, kisspeptin administration was also found to activate the posterior cingulate cortex (another key behavioral area appearing after seeing highly attractive male faces), which was linked to reduced sexual aversion in the participants.
Participants also revealed that they felt “sexy” after taking kisspeptin compared with the placebo.
For the study on men, the researchers enrolled 32 right-handed heterosexual men between the ages of 21 and 52 who were troubled by their low sex drive. The team collected their blood samples before and after taking kisspeptin. Just like the study on women, they were made to watch both short and long erotic videos. Only this time, they recorded the degree of penile rigidity.
The results showed that kisspeptin significantly increased brain activity in key erotic-processing brain structures as well as promoted erection by up to 56 percent more than the placebo upon watching the erotic video.
Kisspeptin was also found to increase sexual desire and arousal among those with low libido similar to the women’s study. And on top of that, the men reported “happiness about sex” compared with the placebo.
Given the benefits kisspeptin has on treating men and women with distressing sexual problems, the team, however, sees the need to conduct further trials in a larger population and establish it as a more realistic treatment.
Altogether, they conclude kisspeptin may offer the first safe and much-needed intervention for Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) in both genders.
A patient’s story about the treatment
A 44-year-old man whose name was hidden opted to be included in the trial due to previous problems with his sexual desire and performance.
According to him: “The issue had always been detrimental to sustaining relationships. I would often make excuses as to why my sexual appetite was low.”
“For example, I would blame stress at work or tiredness as a reason instead of being honest. I had tried other performance-supporting medication like Viagra.”
He explained that it was pretty much ineffective as the case was his low desire.
He also felt embarrassed and found it difficult to share with his past partners, fearing they may confuse it with a lack of attraction to them.
The trial participant said: “I was keen to learn whether there was a solution to my problem and learn more about my condition.”
“I received the kisspeptin infusion in June 2021 and I noticed a difference in terms of my sexual desire,” he continues. “The week I had the kisspeptin infusion we conceived our son, who was born in March 2022. I had the best possible outcome as a result of the trial.”
“I also learnt a lot more about myself and my condition. I am really pleased to have contributed to this trial, which has been life-changing for me.”