You might think that whether or not you want to have sex depends on how you’re feeling about your partner or how tired or energetic you are, but it turns out there’s more of a scientific explanation. A study published in the journal Nature Communications has discovered that the so-called “kiss hormone” kisspeptin controls your sex drive. Here’s what you need to know.
- The study on the brain chemical known as kisspeptin was performed on mice. Researchers at two universities, Germany’s Saarland University and Belgium’s Liège University, performed this study on mice and learned a lot about kisspeptin. In fact, the results were totally fascinating. Basically, it’s responsible for everything that has to do with your sex life (called your “sexual behavior”) and how attracted to you are to the opposite gender.
- This hormone does a lot of things in the female body in particular. The interesting thing is that researchers knew that kisspeptin was tied to puberty but not that it had so many roles in a woman’s body. This study found that your sex drive, how your body changes during puberty, your fertility, and your attraction to the opposite sex are all tied to this hormone. Yup, that’s a lot.
- Sex and survival are the same thing for species like mice. You might roll your eyes when your boyfriend says that he wants to have sex all the time, but that’s not so far off for a lot of animal species. As the study authors wrote, “Sexual behavior is essential for the survival of many species. In female rodents, mate preference and copulatory behavior depend on pheromones and are synchronized with ovulation to ensure reproductive success.” This isn’t necessarily saying or proving that your sex drive might be higher around your period, but it does seem to suggest something along those lines.
- Sex really is tied to fertility and having a baby. If you’re not looking to be a mom anytime soon (or ever), you probably don’t want to think about the fact that if you have unprotected sex (which of course you never should) or miss taking your birth control pill, you could get pregnant. But it’s impossible to think about getting hot and heavy without remembering that people do have sex in order to have babies. According to this study, sex really does have a strong connection to fertility. As the study authors wrote, “Female copulatory behaviors are exquisitely orchestrated by sex hormones in order to coincide with ovulation and thus to ensure the highest possible chance of fertilization.”
- This hormone is crucial for one group of women. That would be women who deal with a low sex drive. How many women in the States deal with this? According to the Huffington Post, that would be one in 10 females. The researchers are excited about taking what they’ve learned about the kiss hormone and applying it to this problem. Julie Bakker, a prof. at Belgium’s Liège University, told Refinery29 that women who struggle with this problem don’t have good treatments available. That definitely sucks, so it’s cool to know that there’s hope on the horizon.
- If you have a low sex drive, this could change everything. If this is you, you should definitely take comfort in the fact that there’s a scientific reason behind your low sex drive. It’s not that you’re not attracted to your partner or that you just hate sex or that you have too many headaches (you know, that classic, stereotypical excuse for not wanting to have sex). Before this study, when researchers talked about women with low sex drive, common explanations included going through menopause, being pregnant, or taking anti-depressants. Now it seems like your kiss hormone might simply be out of whack, and now that there’s a more concrete understanding of it, that’s when change can really begin.
- There are big plans already. As the study authors told Bustle, they’re already planning what to do with their discovery. Bakker said they could make kisspeptin into a nasal spray or pill form (right now it’s only available via injection). They’re also planning to study the brain chemistry of women via an MRI so they can see how this hormone responds to desire. Sounds really cool, right? While they definitely are in the early stages and a lot more research needs to be done, this is definitely a start toward solving the problem of female low sex drive. And it’s a really good one. No one should have to go through this and it’s an issue that deserves a lot more care and attention.