Monday January 20, 2020

“Love” Hormone, Reason Behind Obsessive Sex Drive

Believe it or not but an unregulated supply of "love" hormone from the brain may be the reason behind obsessive sex thoughts and a compulsion

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Sex, Sex drive, love, hormone, hypersexual
Hypersexual disorder, or an overactive sex drive, is recognized as a compulsive sexual behaviour disorder. Pixabay

Believe it or not but an unregulated supply of “love” hormone from the brain may be the reason behind obsessive sex thoughts and a compulsion to perform sexual acts in some people characterized as hypersexuals.

A new study on men and women with hypersexual disorder has revealed a possible role of the hormone oxytocin, also known as “cuddle” or “love” hormone, according to researchers.

Hypersexual disorder, or an overactive sex drive, is recognized as a compulsive sexual behaviour disorder, listed as an impulse-control disorder by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

While prevalence estimates vary, literature indicates that hypersexual disorder affects 3-6 per cent of population globally.

“We set out to investigate the epigenetic regulatory mechanisms behind hypersexual disorder so we could determine whether it has any hallmarks that make it distinct from other health issues,” said lead author Adrian Bostrom from Uppsala University, Sweden.

“Our study is the first to implicate dysregulated epigenetic mechanisms of both DNA methylation and microRNA activity and the involvement of oxytocin in the brain among patients seeking treatment for hypersexuality,” added Bostrom who conducted the study with researchers from the Andrology/Sexual Medicine Group (ANOVA) at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm.

The team investigated 8,852 regions of DNA methylation associated to nearby microRNAs to identify any variations between samples.

They also compared their findings to samples from 107 subjects, 24 of whom were alcohol-dependent, to explore an association with addictive behaviour.

Results identified two regions of DNA that were altered in hypersexual disorder patients.

Sex, Sex drive, love, hormone, hypersexual
Unregulated supply of “love” hormone from the brain may be the reason behind obsessive sex thoughts. Pixabay

Analysis revealed that the microRNA targets genes that are normally expressed at particularly high levels in the brain and that are involved in the regulation of the hormone oxytocin.

Previous studies have demonstrated that oxytocin is associated with the regulation of social and pair-bonding, sexual reproduction and aggressive behaviour in both men and women.

The comparison with alcohol-dependent subjects revealed the same DNA region to be significantly under-methylated, suggesting that it may be primarily associated with the addictive components of hypersexual disorder, such as sex addiction, dysregulated sexual desire, compulsivity and impulsivity, said the study published in the journal Epigenetics.

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The finding could potentially open the door to treating the disorder by engineering a way to suppress its activity.

“Further research will be needed to investigate the role of microRNA and oxytocin in hypersexual disorder, but our results suggest it could be worthwhile to examine the benefits of drug and psychotherapy to reduce the activity of oxytocin,” said Professor Jussi Jokinen from Umea University, Sweden. (IANS)

Next Story

Women Who Have Less Sex Experience an Early Menopause: Study

Having less sex linked to earlier menopause

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women sex
Women who reported having sexual activity weekly were 28 per cent less likely to have experienced menopause than those who had sex less than once a month. Lifetime Stock

Women who have sex more often are less likely to have an early menopause, researchers say, adding that women who reported having sexual activity weekly were 28 per cent less likely to have experienced menopause than those who had sex less than once a month.

While the study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, didn’t look at the reason for the link, the researchers said that the physical cues of sex may signal to the body that there is a possibility of getting pregnant.

But for women who aren’t having sex frequently in midlife, an earlier menopause may make more biological sense, the study said.

“The findings of our study suggest that if a woman is not having sex, and there is no chance of pregnancy, then the body ‘chooses’ not to invest in ovulation, as it would be pointless,” said study researcher Megan Arnot from University College London in the US.

“There may be a biological energetic trade-off between investing energy into ovulation and investing elsewhere, such as keeping active by looking after grandchildren,” Arnot added.

women sex
Women who aren’t having sex frequently in midlife, an earlier menopause may make more biological sense. Lifetime Stock

During ovulation, the woman’s immune function is impaired, making the body more susceptible to disease, the study said.

Given a pregnancy is unlikely due to a lack of sexual activity, then it would not be beneficial to allocate energy to a costly process, especially if there is the option to invest resources into existing kin.

The research is based on data collected from 2,936 women, recruited as the baseline cohort for the SWAN study in 1996/1997.

The women were asked to respond to several questions, including whether they had engaged in sex with their partner in the past six months, the frequency of sex including whether they engaged in sexual intercourse, oral sex, sexual touching or caressing in the last six months and whether they had engaged in self-stimulation in the past six months.

The most frequent pattern of sexual activity was weekly (64 per cent).

Interviews were carried out over a ten-year follow-up period, during which 1,324 (45 per cent) of the 2,936 women experienced a natural menopause at an average age of 52.

By modelling the relationship between sexual frequency and the age of natural menopause, women of any age who had sex weekly had a hazard ratio of 0.72, whereas women of any age who had sex monthly had a hazard ratio of 0.81.

This provided a likelihood whereby women of any age who had sex weekly were 28 per cent less likely to experience the menopause compared to those who had sex less than monthly.

Likewise, those who had sex monthly were 19 per cent less likely to experience menopause at any given age compared to those who had sex less than monthly.

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The study also tested whether living with a male partner affected menopause as a proxy to test whether exposure to male pheromones delayed menopause.

The researchers found no correlation, regardless of whether the male was present in the household or not. (IANS)