Science Is Closer to Finding a Cure for Our Psychological Sex Problems
Kisspeptin, a naturally occurring hormone that kicks off puberty and is thought to fuel what the Telegraph describes as the "voracious sexual appetites of young people," could well be a sort of "mental Viagra" for people with psychosexual disorders — that is, disorders that are psychological as opposed to physical. And because these disorders can occur in patients who are infertile, researchers from Imperial College London report in the Journal of Clinical Investigation that kisspeptin could even play a role in helping couples struggling to conceive.
The early-stage study began to lay the groundwork for that theory by testing how kisspeptin affects the brain's responses to sexual situations. To achieve this, researchers injected kisspeptin or a placebo into 29 healthy young men, explains a press release. When shown arousing images, MRI scans of the kisspeptin group revealed enhanced activity in brain regions associated with arousal compared to the placebo group. There was no such activity observed when non-sexual romantic images were shown.
The lead author notes that most research and treatments for infertility focus on important biological factors, but that emotional processing is also key and "only partially understood."
Next up, they plan to expand the study's size and include women. Bonus trivia: Kisspeptin's name comes from Hershey, Pennsylvania, which is home to both Hershey’s Kisses and the lab that in 1996 discovered the KiSS-1 gene that encodes kisspeptins, reports the New Statesman.
(In related news, this couple is pregnant with twins after the most extreme tragedy.)