Winter's Low Light Can Hamper Male Libido

By Jamin Brahmbhatt, MD, Urologist and Co-Director of The PUR Clinic at South Lake Hospital

The same factors that drive seasonal depression also may be responsible for low libido in men. With winter’s shorter days and reduced sunlight, testosterone levels often decrease in men from November through April. This is in dramatic contrast to the increased testosterone levels of the warmer months — especially the long, sunny days of June, when a man has the highest likelihood of producing offspring. 

As an alternative to medication, a more natural solution for boosting testosterone may be available in the future. European researchers found that exposing men to light during winter months can boost testosterone and sexual satisfaction, just as light therapy helps many people deal with seasonal affective disorder. 

In the study, half of the male participants spent 30 minutes in front of a UV-filtered light box in the morning. The other half were exposed to a placebo light treatment. By the end of two weeks, men in the brighter light group reported triple the level of sexual satisfaction, increasing from a score of 2 to a score of 6 (on a 1-10 scale). Their testosterone levels also increased. 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. Researchers believe light therapy combats gland activity in the brain that depresses testosterone levels. Light therapy also may increase testosterone-boosting hormones in the body.

That doesn’t mean men should spend all day out in the Florida sun. After all, overexposure to UV rays can be dangerous. It just means that for men dealing with low libido, light therapy could one day be an alternative to prescription medications. The operative word is “could” — much more research is needed to truly assess the benefits of light therapy for male libido.

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