Drug that blocks the so‑called ‘love hormone’ could help men stay the distance in the bedroom
- Pill that blocks the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin may be treat premature ejaculation
- Early studies showed it to be safe and effective, with a four-fold improvement
- More than 200 men are now actively taking part in a clinical trial of the drug
A pill that blocks the so‑called ‘love hormone’ oxytocin may be an effective treatment for premature ejaculation, which affects one in three men.
Early studies showed it to be safe and effective, with a near four-fold improvement in symptoms. More than 200 men are now taking part in a clinical trial of the drug.
Premature ejaculation is defined by the International Society of Sexual Medicine as ejaculation ‘within a minute’. It can lead to anxiety and depression, and can wreck sex lives and marriages.
Both psychological and biological factors can play a role.
Definition: Premature ejaculation is defined by the International Society of Sexual Medicine as ejaculation ‘within a minute’ and can lead to anxiety and depression
Some research suggests there may be a genetic element, and it is also associated with prostate inflammation (known as prostatitis), thyroid disorders and previous traumatic experiences.
Treatments include counselling to reduce anxiety levels and the use of local anaesthetic creams to lessen sensitivity. An antidepressant called dapoxetine is sometimes prescribed, too, as one of its side-effects is delayed orgasm.
The new drug, cligosiban, is an ‘oxytocin antagonist’, which means it stops oxytocin binding to cells in the body. The idea is that if this hormone can be blocked, then the moment of ejaculation can be delayed.
Oxytocin is a hormone produced in the hypothalamus, an area in the brain that plays a key role in behaviour — from encouraging maternal attachment to a baby and lactation, to empathy, generosity and orgasm.
Oxytocin levels are known to rise during sex.
Research has suggested that, in men, blood levels of oxytocin increase during sexual stimulation and arousal, and peak during ejaculation. One theory is that the hormone is involved in the mechanisms that trigger the release of sperm. Men diagnosed with anorgasmia, the inability to orgasm, have been successfully treated with nasal sprays of the hormone.
According to a new study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, cligosiban acts on oxytocin cells in the brain and spinal cord to reduce blood levels of the hormone.
In the recent trial at Tulane University School of Medicine in the U.S. and a number of other centres, 88 men with premature ejaculation took the drug, or a placebo, daily.
Hope: According to a new study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, cligosiban acts on oxytocin cells in the brain and spinal cord to reduce blood levels of the hormone
Results showed that at the start of the six-week trial, the average time to orgasm was 33 seconds. The time increased 3.8-fold in those men who took cligosiban — more than double the effects seen with the placebo.
Around 220 men are taking part in a new placebo-controlled trial at 29 centres in the U.S., including Manhattan Medical Research.
Professor Raj Persad, a consultant urologist with Bristol Urology Associates, says: ‘The results will be eagerly awaited for this complex, little understood condition.
‘At present we have little that is clearly beneficial for this distressing condition.
‘Alternatives would be welcomed, particularly if they are shown not to be toxic or to interfere with normal physiology.’