Breakthrough Research: Sexual Dysfunction, PMT and IVF

While there are many factors that can affect a person's libido and fertility rate, new breakthrough research may be able to give insight into one of the biggest controllers of sexuality and reproduction in the human body. The brain. 

Brain Neurological Activity

Prof. Julie Bakker at Liège University, Belgium, Prof. Ulrich Boehm at Saarland University, Germany and their team, conducted research to explore how a hormone transmits sexual attraction signals to the opposite sex and affects the individual's own sexual behaviour.

This research was conducted through the study of mice. By examining a female mouse, they were able to discover that the hormone kisspeptin controls sexual attraction and desire. They also discovered that male mice produce and emit specific fragrances that also stimulate the nerve cells that produce kisspeptin. Once this occurs, it activates a circuit in the brain that releases a neurohormone. This is what drives the female's attention towards the male mouse.

Parallel to this, another circuit also receives the kisspeptin transmittion through cells that produce a neurotransmitter called nitric oxide, which stimulates sexual readiness. Essentially, the brain is an elaborate network, just like the internet, and the kisspeptin is the key, compressed folder that contains sexual and reproductive data that is sent through the network along a specific line to specific cell recipients, just like sending an email to a service provider or merchant. Once that information is obtained by the cells, they can process the data and put it to work i.e. extract the information and carry out the work requested.

This research can help scientists to better understand the relationship between the brain and sexual behaviour, which up until now, aside from causes attributed to psychodynamics, cognitive behaviour and lifestyle factors, has been somewhat of a mystery. 

"This research has provided us with new insights into how the brain decodes signals from the outside world and then translates those environmental influences into behaviour. In many animals, sexual behaviour is closely linked to ovulation to ensure the highest possible chance of fertilisation and thus the continuation of the species. So far, little was known about how the brain connects ovulation, attraction and sex. Now we know that a single molecule - kisspeptin - controls all of these aspects through different, parallel brain circuits, " said Ulrich Boehm, Professor of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Saarland University.

Potentially, by furthering our understanding of kisspeptin's role in all of these factors, physicians will be better equipped to help those dealing with sexual dysfunctions, ovulation issues and serious cases of PMS and PMT. 

For example, back in 2014 a new form of IVF treatment was given a single trial on 53 women using the hormone kisspeptin-54, which we naturally produce. From this trial, 12 babies were born perfectly healthy. The reason for this trial was that scientists hoped to make IVF treatments safer by reducing the use of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone produced during pregnancy by cells in the placenta after the fertilised egg attaches to the uterine wall. The dangers of including hCG in IVF treatment is that it carries a small risk of causing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), a rare complication that cause too many eggs being developed in the ovaries. Aside from the ovaries becoming very large and painful, it can cause bloating, sickness, shortness of breath, feeling faint and in worst case scenarios, even death.

Another study was conducted in 2015 on women with a high risk of hCG to see if a second dose of kisspeptin-54 could improve oocyte maturation, i.e. the development from it's initial form before fertilisation (germ cells / immature egg) into the second stage where through the process of meiosis, the cells divide after fertilisation (becomes a fertilised egg). The results showed that a second dose of kisspeptin-54 administered 10 hours after the first dose, did in fact improve oocyte maturity in the participants. 

As we can see from such results, there is significant enough cause for further research into the hormone kissapeptin. When other explanations fall flat, the key to such breakthroughs may lie within in our own brain. 


Written by Brenda Adiyiah for Burn the Night 

In association with Rose Talks Sex radio show.


Sources: News Medical Life Sciences; Saarland University; American Pregnancy Association; NHS; Oxford Academic; Wikipedia