Can light therapy improve your sexual functioning? New promising data

Jun 09, 2009

Although we are still far from knowing exactly where and how the pineal suppressive role is exerted, the fact that the gland exerts an inhibitory function on the reproductive axis is widely accepted. In fact, the pineal seems to exert its hormonal effect at different levels of the reproductive axis, both at the hypothalamic-pituitary level and at the gonadal level, where melatonin receptors have also been found.

Furthermore, melatonin appears to increase prolactin secretion, which may contribute to sexual dysfunction. Based on the observations mentioned above a group of italian investigators hypothesized that an inhibition of pineal gland activity via a treatment with bright light could favorably influence sexual function and pilottested the usefulness of bright light therapy in a small sample of 9 male patients with nonorganic sexual dysfunction. Subjects (age 39-60) were consecutively recruited in the outpatient clinic of the Urology Department of the University of Siena Medical Center on the basis of a diagnosis of primary (i.e. not due to another illness or to a medication or a drug of abuse) hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD, n = 2), sexual arousal disorder (SAD, n = 6), and orgasmic disorder (OD, n = 1) and the absence of a mood disorder, as assessed via the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Subjects were randomly assigned to active light treatment (ALT) or placebo light treatment (L-PBO) and assessed at baseline and after 2 weeks of ALT/L-PBO treatment via the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-Sexual Disorders (SCID-S) and via a sexual satisfaction self-report, which asked them to rate on a scale from 1 to 10 their level of sexual satisfaction.

The ALT consisted of daily exposure to a white fluorescent light box (Super-Lite 3S, fitted with an ultraviolet filter and rated at 10,000 lx at a distance of 1 m from screen to cornea) for 30 min as soon as possible after awakening, between 7.00 a.m. and 8.00 a.m. The L-PBO was an identical light box fitted with a neutral density gel filter to reduce light exposure to 100 lx. After 2 weeks of treatment, 3 of the 5 patients randomized to ALT no longer met the SCID-S criteria for a sexual disorder whereas the sexual disorder was still present in all the 4 patients in the L-PBO group. A significant (p = 0.001) improvement in sexual satisfaction was observed in the ALT group, whereas no improvement was observed in the L-PBO group (p =0.39). The findings of this study suggest a potentially favorable effect of bright light therapy on primary sexual dysfunctions. A larger study is now needed to confirm these preliminary results and to test whether bright light therapy may be of help for the treatment of sexual dysfunctions that are associated with certain psychiatric illnesses, such as major depressive disorder, or with medications that are prescribed to treat those illnesses.

Citation: Bossini, L.; Fagiolini, A.; Valdagno, M.; Roggi, M.; Tallis, V.; Trovarelli, S.; Ponchietti, R.; Castrogiovanni, P. as a Treatment for Sexual Dysfunctions. Psychother Psychosom 2009;78:127-128.

Explore further: What to do with kidneys from older deceased donors?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Testosterone patch benefits women with low sexual desire

Aug 14, 2007

Novel research published in the current issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine supports the claim that women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder or HSDD (persistent or recurrent deficiency and/or absence of sexual fanatasies/thoughts, ...

New measure of sexual arousal found for both men and women

Feb 23, 2007

According to a new study published in the latest issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine and conducted in the Department of Psychology of McGill University, thermography shows great promise as a diagnostic method of measur ...

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.