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A new hormone therapy called kisspeptin can treat people with a low sex drive, the BBC reports. This is the conclusion of a clinical trial carried out by researchers from Imperial College London, although they say that larger scale studies are still needed.

Older people are more likely to have a low libido than younger people, although it can affect anyone. Sometimes it is not a particularly important issue, but it can be an obstacle for those who are keen to form romantic relationships. The lack of sexual desire can be mistaken for rejection, which is naturally upsetting for a partner.

Dr Alexander Comninos, from the Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction at Imperial College London, Consultant Endocrinologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and co-senior author of the study, said:

“Low sexual desire can be distressing and so result in HSDD. This can have a major detrimental impact on relationships, mental health, and fertility. Even though it is relatively common, treatment options in women are limited, carry significant side-effects and in some cases can be harmful to even try.”

He added: “And unfortunately, these treatments have limited effectiveness. In men there are currently no licensed treatments and none on the horizon. Therefore, there is a real unmet need to find new, safer and more effective therapies for this distressing condition for both women and men seeking treatment.”

Low sex drive can be one of the symptoms of erectile dysfunction (ED), although kisspeptin is not intended to treat this condition specifically. ED is defined as the ability to get or maintain an erection long enough for a satisfying sexual experience. It can be successfully treated with products such as Viagra tablets that you can buy online.

Professor Waljit Dhillo, an NIHR Senior Investigator, also from the Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction at Imperial College London, Consultant Endocrinologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and co-senior author of the study, added:

“Our studies build on our previous work to assess the effectiveness of kisspeptin and its boosting effects in terms of arousal and attraction. It is highly encouraging to see the same boosting effect in both women and men, although the precise brain pathways were slightly different as might be expected.”

He continued: “Collectively, the results suggest that kisspeptin may offer a safe and much-needed treatment for HSDD that affects millions of people around the world and we look forward to taking this forward in future larger studies and in other patient groups.”

Anyone who is adversely affected by ED or a low sex drive is advised to visit their GP in the first instance. There are a number of potential causes, including stress and depression, getting older, being overweight and not taking enough exercise, poor nutrition, and drinking or smoking to excess. Certain medications can also cause low sex drive or ED, including some types of antidepressants and blood pressure tablets. It may also be caused by a more serious underlying health condition, including heart disease and diabetes.