They set out to investigate.
Fagiolini’s team recruited 38 men diagnosed with either hypoactive sexual desire disorder or sexual arousal disorder – both characterised by a lack of interest in sex. Each man underwent an initial evaluation to determine the baseline level of interest in sex, with testosterone levels also being measured.
Light boxes have always been used to battle seasonal affective disorder, a condition in which patients routinely lapse into depressive episodes during the winter. One group was exposed to an intense, artificial light, while a control group was treated with a dimmer light.
All the participants were asked to sit in front of a light box for half-an-hour each morning. But incredibly, after the experiment, their sexual satisfaction shot up like a stiffy to 6.3/10 – more than three times as much.
While average blood levels of testosterone in the “control” group remained at around 2.3 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml) before and after the study, those of the men receiving active light treatment rose from 2.1 ng/ml to 3.6 ng/ml. After two weeks of treatment or placebo, the researchers retested sexual satisfaction and testosterone levels.
Testosterone levels also increased in this group, while no significant changes were recorded among controls, so the scientists hypothesised that these hormonal changes were potentially responsible for the renewed sexual interest experienced by these participants.
The researchers also found that testosterone levels increased in men who had been given active light treatment.
The new study – recently presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) Congress in Vienna, Austria – found early morning exposure to bright light for 2 weeks increased men’s testosterone levels, enhancing their sexual satisfaction.
The researchers did not find this entirely surprising.
“In the Northern hemisphere, the body’s testosterone production naturally declines from November through April, and then rises steadily through the spring and summer with a peak in October”, he explained.
“You see the effect of this in reproductive rates, with the month of June showing the highest rate of conception”.
Light therapy is already regularly used to treat people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder as well as other forms of depression and sleep disorders.
Fagiolini suggests that the light therapy may inhibit the pineal gland in the center of the brain, thus allowing for the production of more testosterone.
Men with low sex drive might try switching on a light, a new study shows.
It’s still too soon for doctors to start prescribing light therapy instead of pills like Viagra, but it could be possible down the line. That said, for most patients the light therapy would be non-invasive with few side effects, making it an appealing alternative to prescription drugs.
Professor Fagiolini added that they’re not yet at the stage where they can recommend light boxes as a clinical treatment for sex disorders.
Now treatment for low libidos includes testosterone injections, antidepressants, and other medications.
Researchers suggest men with low sexual desire may benefit from light therapy.
According to some studies, up to a quarter of men report problems depending on age and other factors.