Male sexual problems linked to low prolactin levels

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This finding was a surprise, because too much prolactin can also supress libido. I can't help wondering if masturbation to internet porn is relevant here. Less prolactin is released after solo sex than intercourse, and increased dissatisfaction may be a marker for "too little" intercourse. Also many men report increased satisfaction during sex after giving up internet porn. See http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201202/guys-wh...

Sexual problems in men may be linked to low levels of the hormone prolactin, according to a new study. The finding is perhaps surprising because experts have traditionally thought prolactin, which stimulates breast development and milk production in women, impairs men's sexual functioning at high levels.

In the new study, researchers looked at nearly 3,000 European men ages 40 to 79, and measured their testosterone and prolactin levels, body mass indexes (BMIs), and blood cholesterol and sugar levels. The participants filled out questionnaires about their general health, smoking, alcohol consumption and sexual functioning.

The results showed low prolactin was linked to several signs of poor sexual health, as well psychological health. Men with levels of prolactin that were lower than average, although still within the normal range, were more likely than men with higher levels to say their sexual function was getting worse, particularly their enjoyment of orgasm. They also had more symptoms of depression, the researchers said.

Low prolactin was also associated with higher BMI and blood sugar, lower levels of physical activity, and generally feeling unhealthier, according to the study published Oct. 29 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Prolactin is best known for its importance in enabling women to produce breast milk after delivering a baby. During pregnancy and breast-feeding, prolactin levels are 10 to 20 times higher than at other times.

Men and non-pregnant women also produce prolactin, but it's not clear what the hormone does in these people. Studies have found that high prolactin levels in men are linked to low sexual desire and erectile dysfunction, and men suffering from such conditions are sometimes tested for high prolactin levels.

The new findings, however, are in contrast with the well-accepted idea that high prolactin levels are linked with men's sexual problems, the researchers said. In fact, the results suggest that prolactin might have a more positive, rather than negative, effect in initiating or maintaining male sexual behavior.

Some previous research supports the new finding, the researchers said. Two animal studies have shown that using drugs to increase prolactin levels in rats boosted their sexual behavior. And a brain-imaging study of men who looked at erotic pictures showed that higher levels of prolactin were associated with more activity in brain regions responding to sexual arousal.

However, it's still unclear how prolactin may facilitate men's sexual functioning, and the study doesn't prove a cause-and-effect relationship, the researchers said.

It is possible that low prolactin mirrors a change in the levels of signaling chemicals in the brain that regulate sexual behavior. It is also possible that overall poorer health is the underlying reason for low prolactin and lower sex drive, the researchers said.

By Bahar Gholipour  Original article on LiveScience.

prolactin and oxytocin are kissing cousins

and prolactin levels after sex are linked to increased satisfaction with the sex.

Oxytocin is produced in men in their testes as well as the pituitary. Prolactin affects luteinizing hormone and probably affects testosterone production among other things.

Solo sex probably messes things up if it's done to excess, as with porn use, even short of ejaculation.

Interesting...

Interesting...

Trying to grasp the implications here for the orgasm cycle.

As a NoFap rebooter, I noticed that I was having periods with increasing frequency and duration over the last 3 years where I would have a flatline of my libido. As a habitual masturbator, I would still masturbate daily during this time, even though I didn't really feel like it.

I would often have orgasms that were really weak, to the point of wondering what the point of the whole experience was. (Funny how things change when you start thinking of the experience being the point rather than the destination, as in Karezza.)

So my understanding thus far has been that orgasm ushers in an increase in proloactin which suppresses dopamine and oxytocin levels. And that prolactin results in that malaise feeling during the days following an orgasm.

What are the implications of this new finding for the orgasm cycle?

None

The orgasm cycle is still the orgasm cycle. It has not been thoroughly investigated, but we've known for years that it goes beyond the simple prolactin-dopamine supression explanation. That was where we started, because some of the earliest relevant research said that. Since then, other mechanisms have shown up, such as decreased androgen receptors, dysregulated dopamine sensitivity, etc. It's likely that all play a role, and more besides.

This article has some of our most recent analysis: Men: Does Frequent Ejaculation Cause a Hangover?

What's true for you is what matters most, and if you're experimenting with karezza, it's likely that what's true for you will also shift over time. Brains are plastic, and the reward circuit (at the heart of our libido) is certainly plastic.

Every brain is different as well. But you have some good clues and a "laboratory," so enjoy your experiments.

The significance of this research is simply that we weren't expecting lower prolactin to be a marker for less satisfying sex because the simplistic understanding was "less prolactin, more dopamine (and more responsiveness)". But it's not all that surprising that ther are other dominoes involved. And prolactin is associated with "satiation," which may be a component of "satisfaction" for some brains...even while too much prolactin (satiation) would result in disinterest.

Basically, human libido has been under severe "attack" the last few decades. All kinds of cracks are appearing and the markers for those cracks are still relatively little understood, precisely because researchers have been unwilling to ask the simple question, "Is there such a thing as too much sexual stimulation of the brain?"