Diminished sexual desire can be a problem for men at any age, but is especially an issue after the age of 40. Scientists have observed that sexual interest fluctuates as seasons change, and this led to a notion that ambient light levels might be a factor influencing sexual drive.
To test this notion, researchers at the University of Siena in Italy, led by Professor Andrea Fagiolini, devised a light therapy study. The 38 male participants had been diagnosed with either hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or sexual arousal disorder. Both conditions are characterized by a diminished interest in sex.
After initial assessments for sexual interest and testosterone levels, the men were placed in one of two groups. The treatment group received bright light therapy, via a light box, early each morning for 30 minutes. The control group went through the same routine, but their light boxes emitted significantly less light. After two weeks, the participants’ sexual interest and testosterone levels were remeasured.
Fagiolini and colleagues found substantial differences between the two group’s results. Prior to using the light boxes, men in both groups averaged sexual satisfaction scores of about 2—out of a possible 10. After light therapy the treatment group’s satisfaction score climbed to around 6.3, and their testosterone levels were significantly increased. The control group’s average satisfaction score rose slightly, to about 2.7, but their testosterone levels did not change.
“The increased levels of testosterone explain the greater reported sexual satisfaction,” said Fagniolini. “In the Northern hemisphere, the body’s testosterone production naturally declines from November through April, and then rises steadily...with a peak in October. You see the effect of this in reproductive rates, with the month of June showing the highest rate of conception. The use of the light box really mimics what nature does.”
The investigators suspect light therapy works by facilitating the production of testosterone, plus other hormonal effects, but are not ready to recommend the procedure as a clinical treatment. Larger studies are needed to confirm their findings, determine the treatment's longevity, and put cautions in place for men with eye conditions, or those taking medications affecting light sensitivity. However, light therapy for improved sexual interest may someday provide the benefits of medication, but with fewer side effects.
Source: Science Daily
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