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Exposure to bright light can lead to greater s*xual satisfaction in men who have low s*xual desire, a new study suggests.
Scientists from the University of Siena in Italy found that using a light box, similar to those used to treat some forms of depression, increased testosterone levels. And this led to greater reported levels of s*xual satisfaction.
The researchers carried out their study on 38 men who had been diagnosed with disorders which cause a lack of interest in s*x.
One half of the group was treated with a light box, while the other half was treated with an adapted light box which gave out significantly less light. They were treated for half an hour early in the morning for two weeks.
When they retested the participants, they found that the group exposed to the bright light tripled their sexual satisfaction scores while the control group’s scores stayed roughly the same.
The researchers also found that testosterone levels increased in men who had been given the active light treatment from around 2.1 ng/ml to 3.6 ng/ml – but the control group showed no increase.
Prof Andrea Fagiolini, who led the study, said the increased levels of testosterone explained the greater reported s*xual satisfaction.
“We found fairly significant differences between those who received the active light treatment, and the controls,” said lead researcher, Andrea Fagiolini.
“Before treatment, both groups averaged a sexual satisfaction score of around two out of 10, but after treatment the group exposed to the bright light was scoring sexual satisfaction scores of around 6.3 – a more than three-fold increase on the scale we used. In contrast, the control group only showed an average score of around 2.7 after treatment.”
The average amount of testosterone in the group that didn’t have the lights shone at them didn’t change. But the men that were treated with the light box had their levels rise from 2.1 nanograms per millilitre to 3.6.
“The increased levels of testosterone explain the greater reported s*xual satisfaction,” said Professor Fagiolini.
“In the northern hemisphere, the body’s testosterone production naturally declines from November through April, and then rises steadily through the spring and summer 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.”
He added: “We believe that there may be several explanations to explain the underlying mechanism. For instance, light therapy inhibits the pineal gland in the centre of the brain and this may allow the production of more testosterone, and there are probably other hormonal effects.
“We’re not yet at the stage where we can recommend this as a clinical treatment .. however if this treatment can be shown to work in a larger study, then light therapy may offer a way forward. It’s a small study, so for the moment we need to treat it with appropriate caution.”
There are several possible reasons for lack of s*xual desire and treatment depends on the underlying cause. It can be treated with testosterone injections, antidepressants, and other medications.
The researchers believe that light therapy in the future may offer the benefits of medication, but with fewer side effects.
But he said they were not yet at the stage where they could recommend it as a clinical treatment.