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Why Light is a Factor in Low Male Libido

December 24, 2016

It turns out the same factors that drive seasonal depression also may be responsible for low libido in men.

Results from a study presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology’s 29th annual meeting in Vienna, Austria indicate that exposure to light may boost testosterone and sexual satisfaction.

In the study, researchers exposed half of the 38 male study participants to 30 minutes of light in the morning. The men sat about three feet away from a UV-filtered light box that transmitted bright light. The other half of participants were exposed to a placebo treatment and lower levels of light that were only 1 percent as intense as the light emitted from the UV-filtered box.

Researchers discovered that the men in the light group had higher levels of sexual satisfaction, going from a score of 2 to a score of 6 (1-10 scale) by the study’s end. Their testosterone levels also increased from the beginning to the end of the study. Men in the placebo group didn’t experience any change in their testosterone levels or sexual satisfaction scores.

Why is light therapy so effective? The answer may be biological. Testosterone levels typically increase during the warmer months of the year, with June being the month when a man has the highest likelihood of producing offspring. These levels often decrease during the colder months of the year, from November through April, before increasing again in the spring through summer.

Light therapy often is used to treat seasonal depression, but now it appears it may be an effective treatment for low libido, as well. Light therapy essentially does the same thing sunlight does, albeit on a smaller scale. Researchers say this therapy may be effective because it combats the efforts of glands in the brain that depress testosterone levels. Light therapy may also increase testosterone-boosting hormones in the body.

Guys, that doesn’t mean you should spend all day out in the Florida sun (after all, overexposure to UV rays can be dangerous). It just means that in men dealing with low libido, light therapy could one day be an alternative to prescription medications. The operative word in that sentence is “could” — much more research is needed to truly assess the benefits of light therapy for male libido. The men in the study were only exposed to UV light for two weeks, so a larger independent study is necessary to confirm whether the beneficial effects researchers witnessed are short or long term.

Bottom line: Light can’t cure low sex drive — at least not yet.