Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

‘Life-changing’ new hormone injection found to treat low sex drive in women and men, study reveals

Up to 10 per cent of women and eight per cent of men suffer from low libido

Ellie Muir
Friday 03 February 2023 16:01 GMT

A hormone injection could be a remedy for women and men who are experiencing low or a loss of sex drive, a new study has suggested.

The research finds that the hormone injection, called kisspeptin, could be used to treat people experiencing low libido.

Kisspeptin is a naturally-occurring hormone that stimulates the release of other reproductive hormones inside the body.

Two new studies found the hormone boosted sexual responses in women and men with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD).

Low libido means a person’s desire to have sex is lowered, which the individual might find distressing.

Low sex drive is understood to impact up to 10 per cent of women and 8 per cent of men worldwide, and it has been found to have detrimental mental health and social impacts.

The NHS advises that low libido can be caused by different social, health or psychological factors including relationship problems, anxiety, vaginal dryness or erectile dysfunction, pregnancy and more.

One participant in the study was a 44-year-old man who experience previous problems with his libido and performance. He would blame his low sex drive on tiredness or stress at work and had resorted to performance-supporting medication Viagra.

The man said: “It was highly embarrassing and not something I felt able to talk to my previous partners about. I feared they would confuse it with lack of attraction to them.”

He man added: “I received the kisspeptin infusion in June 2021 and I noticed a difference in terms of my sexual desire. The week I had the kisspeptin infusion we conceived our son, who was born in March 2022. I had the best possible outcome as a result of the trial.

“I also learnt a lot more about myself and my condition. I am really pleased to have contributed to this trial, which has been life-changing for me.”

These are the first clinical studies to explore the ability of the hormone to boost the sexual parts of the brain in women and men who are distressed by their low sexual desire (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Research conducted by the Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust team have previously shown in men with intact sexual desire that the hormone can enhance responses to sexual stimuli.

Kisspeptin can also boost attraction, independent of other reproductive hormones like testosterone.

In the latest study, researchers found kisspeptin improved sexual brain processing in both women and men, resulting in positive effects on libido compared to placebo.

These are the first clinical studies to explore the ability of the hormone to boost the sexual parts of the brain in women and men who are distressed by their low sexual desire.

Dr Alexander Comninos, from the department of metabolism, digestion and reproduction at Imperial College London, said: “Low sexual desire can be distressing and so result in HSDD [Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder].”

HSDD is when an individual is not interested in sex, has no sex drive or low sex drive, and it begins to bother the person.

Dr Comninos said that the studies are hopeful, and provide evidence that kisspeptin “is a potentially safe and effective therapy for both women and men with distressing low sexual desire.”

According to the research, kisspeptin can also have positive effects not only in the brain but also in the penis by increasing rigidity.

The hormone was well-tolerated by both women and men with no side effects reported, which is crucial when it comes to developing drugs.

Researchers are next planning to test the hormone in sexual problems that are psychological in origin, such as unexplained low libido.

With additional reporting from PA.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in