The Seasonality of Sex: Is There a Biological Cause for Low Libido in Winter?
Some health professionals believe that a little-known yet significant hormone may be connected to the seasonality of sex. In this brief article, we will take a look at how different seasons and weather conditions might impact libido and sex drive, whether there may be biological cause for diminished libido and fertility rates during specific seasons of the year and how the hormone kisspeptin might play a significant factor in this debate.
The Seasonality of Sex
It has long been suspected that various seasons and their related weather might impact a person's desire to engage in intercourse. In some cases, environmental factors do indeed seem to be at work. For example, exceedingly warm or cold weather might turn the romantic desires of some people off. Temperatures that could potentially induce sweat may reduce libido in some while excessively cool conditions could also render the body unable or unwilling to partake in a sexual encounter.
Under other circumstances, certain mental or emotional conditions affecting libido might be correlated to specific yearly seasons. A diagnosable mental malady called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can have a profound impact upon an individual's romantic desires. Those stricken with SAD have a form of depression that kicks in when one season changes to another.
In many cases, SAD is precipitated by fall changing to winter. Mental health professionals suggest that the cold, dark, perhaps snowy and icy conditions often occurring during the wintertime impacts some people to such a significant extent that their mindsets are altered and they lose interest in engaging in activities they typically enjoy at other times such as sex.
Additionally, the medications often prescribed to treat SAD and some other types of depression may also inhibit libido. Those under the influence of both the condition and drug side effects might experience more significant manifestations of declining libido than others.
Could the Hormone Kisspeptin Be Behind the Seasonality of Sex?
Certain members of the medical community believe a hormone known as kisspeptin may elicit a major influence over the seasonality of sex. Once scientifically referred to as metastin, kisspeptin is a hormone that's produced and secreted by the hypothalamus. Amongst kisspeptin's biological benefits is the substance's perceived ability to suppress the spread of cancer cells (metastases).
In terms of a person's sexual function and hormonal balances, kisspeptin is responsible for aiding bodily production of neurotransmitters (brain cells) that releases other hormones vital to the production of major sexual and reproductive hormones such as testosterone and estradiol. Without kisspeptin, the body would experience a myriad of difficulties creating and secreting these critical substances.
Kisspeptin's Potential Influence Over Libido and Fertility
A 2006 study conducted by researchers representing Indiana University and the University of California at Berkeley studied how this hormone impacts the reproductive prowess and sex drive of Siberian hamsters during winter when there is less daylight and decreasing external temperatures.
The examiners separated test subjects into two study groups. The first group of animals were housed in enclosures that mimicked summer-like conditions highlighted by extended periods of daylight. The other group were kept in a winter-like environment with much shorter periods of daylight. Furthermore, roughly two months into the experiment, each study subject was injected with a dosage of kisspeptin. Once the study period ended, researchers examined several biological factors in all of the animals, such as blood concentrations of vital reproductive hormones, the vitality of their reproductive systems and the amount of brain cells containing kisspeptin.
The scientists concluded that those animals who were secluded under wintertime conditions experienced a significant decline of kisspeptin in brain regions crucial to the stimulation of libido and reproductive function versus subjects housed in enclosures mimicking summertime weather. That said, subjects exposed to wintertime conditions still responded positively to kisspeptin when they were injected with the substance.
The study's researchers opine that such findings could indicate that kisspeptin seems to have the ability to exercise a significant influence over sexual and reproductive health.
These same researchers added that studies performed on people suggest that individuals with kisspeptin deficiencies have been known to experience reproductive problems. That said, despite the results produced by the hamsters, they cannot definitively say kisspeptin can automatically be connected to seasonal incidents of decreased libido and reproductive challenges in human subjects.
How Can People Overcome Seasonal Libido or Fertility Issues?
Those experiencing such seasonal challenges relating to libido or fertility might alleviate or possibly eliminate sexual or reproductive manifestations by engaging in activities such as obtaining more exposure to sunlight, maintaining a proper sleep schedule, exercising, consuming a balanced diet, exploring natural supplements that can help boost libido and by checking the medications they are taking.
In some cases, sexual or reproductive issues might be precipitated by a more serious underlying medical cause. Individuals who experience seasonal libido or reproductive problems might wish to consider receiving an evaluation from their doctor who can diagnose the exact cause and prescribe the appropriate treatment.