Light Up Your Libido … With Light Therapy

The proven benefits of light therapy are many … sleep disorders, jet lag, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This non-pharmacological treatment is administered through a box that emits artificial light designed to mimic sunlight, and it affects brain chemicals related to mood, sleep, and, according to the latest study, sex drive!

Light Therapy’s Effect on Male Libido

silhouette of couple embracing with sunlight shining through

Up to 25% of men are dealing with a disinterested libido. Low sex drive can be a symptom of such factors as anxiety, depression, or low testosterone levels. Light therapy has a demonstrated effect on the latter according to a new study presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) Congress in Vienna, Austria.

Researchers separated 38 men diagnosed with either hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) or sexual arousal disorder into two groups:

  • The first group was treated with 30-minutes of light therapy from a uniquely adapted light box
  • The control group was exposed to a light box that gave off much less light.

After two weeks of light therapy, researchers measured the men’s testosterone levels and sex drive. And what did they found? A pronounced spike in both testosterone and sex drive among the men in the first group!

Lead researcher Prof. Andrea Fagiolini, of the Department of Mental Health at the University of Siena in Italy, told Medical News Today: “Before treatment, both groups averaged a sexual satisfaction score of around 2 out of 10, but after treatment the group exposed to the bright light was scoring sexual satisfaction scores of around 6.3 – a more than threefold increase on the scale we used.”

Testosterone levels also shot up from 2.3 nanograms per milliliter to 3.6 nanograms per milliliter. The men in the control group experienced no such gains in sex drive or testosterone levels.

The Link Between Testosterone, Sex Drive and Light

romantic couple at sunsetIt’s well documented that in the Northern Hemisphere testosterone levels go down during the months of November through April, and then start to rise from April to November. Studies suggest that increased exposure to light during the spring and summer months contribute to testosterone increases, which in turn contribute to libido surges. More babies are conceived during June than any other month of the year!

Previous studies also show that light therapy increases levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) in men. LH is a pituitary hormone that raises testosterone levels. Scientists believe that light therapy may help block pineal activity in the brain, and in doing so increase testosterone and LH levels.

But what about women’s sex drive? According to researchers, light therapy may also help boost female libidos by helping to increase LH levels. Not having enough LH in the body is thought to contribute to low sex drive in women.

Researchers note more research needs to be conducted before they can officially recommend light therapy as a treatment for low sex drive. 

“We’re not yet at the stage where we can recommend this as a clinical treatment. However, if this treatment can be shown to work in a larger study, then light therapy may offer a way forward. It’s a small study, so for the moment we need to treat it with appropriate caution.”