Mating has antidepressant effect on male mice...thanks to oxytocin

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Oxytocin mediates the antidepressant effects of mating behavior in male mice.


A significant association between plasma oxytocin (OT) levels and depression has been demonstrated. A recent study found that sexual activity and mating with a female induced the release of OT in the central nervous system of male rats. Here we examined the effect of mating behavior on depression-related behavior in wild-type (WT) and OT receptor-deficient (OTR KO) male mice. The WT males showed a reduction in depression-related behavior after mating behavior, but the OTR KO mice did not. Application of an OTR antagonist inhibited mating behavior-induced antidepressant effect in WT males. OT may mediate the antidepressant effects of mating behavior.

Oxytocin mediates the antidepressant effects of mating behavior in male mice

If only there was mouse porn, we could find out whether a real female makes all the difference!

no dopamine results, no pair bond test

But rats/mice do not pair bond, and they did not measure long-term effects of mating (which was presumably with orgasm). Their conclusion is that mating (read orgasm) increases oxytocin which decreases depression. Except then the oxytocin gets metabolized, and the dopamine imbalance takes over, and the mating urge and depression return. In rats, this is fine--they have no competing programs and no monogamous goals.

Some of this research seems to be biased toward trying to find a reason why mating/orgasm should be a universally positive activity. Marnia and Gary have mentioned this repeatedly, but two posts about orgasm-positive research in as many days suggests that there is some agenda in the 'research community' to validate majority contemporary sexual behavior. These researchers apparently have a mental block: if sex to orgasm were such a relationship glue and depression cure, then sex addicts would be the most monogamous and happy persons on the planet. This is not the case.

I should stop posting complaints to these threads--I am probably irritable due to orgasm abstinence, and ultimately the research agenda is peripheral to my personal happiness. If, as I hope, abstinence improves my relationship and my overall disposition, then I'll be grateful and the research will be irrelevant.

Keep right on posting

We share your concern about how this research will probably be used to fuel the existing myths, and my plan is to write a post/article that helps readers become more discriminating about what such bits and pieces mean...and what they don't mean. So I'll weave your thoughts into it, too.

Interestingly, the scientist who corresponded with me about the monkey study is very clear that copulation is probably the bonding key for male tamarins...and ejaculation just the occasional icing on the cake. he said he doubts they ejaculate every time, but it's not obvious when they do and don't, so he couldn't guess how often they do.(More on that thread.)

But that message never gets through to the journalists who write these things up.

We can only do what we can. I just popped these up because they're in the news now, and we're mulling them over a lot ourselves. Your reflections are most welcome.