Dopamine, Erectile Dysfunction and Libido 

What is dopamine? What does it do? What role does it play in the reward system of the brain? And how does dopamine affect libido and erectile dysfunction? Read on and I will explain all this + tell you what dopamine deficiency can do to you.

 

Dopamine

Dopamine is a chemical that will often catch people’s attention. This is because it is associated with our most sinful behaviors and secret cravings like sex, drugs and chocolate. Although this is true, dopamine is also a lot more than that. Dopamine at its basics is a signalling molecule that is sent by one nerve cell (or neuron) in the brain to another in order to send a message. Because it transmits signals between nerve cells, it is also called a neurotransmitter.

Increases in dopamine release occurs in response to sex, drugs, food, sugars, etc. Although a spike in dopamine is associated with ‘pleasure’, this not entirely correct. Instead, dopamine is released when we anticipate pleasure or reward. For instance when a hungry person smells freshly baked pizza coming from the pizza bakery and imagines or anticipates eating pizza, that’s when dopamine is released.

The reward system in the brain is activated when a person engages in certain activities that further its survival or the continuation of its genes. Sex, eating and mastering a new skill all support either an individual’s survival or the continuation of its genes. Therefore, the anticipation of either of these will result in dopamine production (or release) in the reward system of the brain.

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The pleasurable sensations experienced when dopamine is released in the brain, function as the motivation or reward for seeking out these activities which, at least historically, would benefit us. I say historically, because eating junk food for instance, although it produces dopamine, does not necessarily support survival in the long term.

In fact, the release of dopamine in our brains provides us with one of the most pleasurable sensations we can experience naturally, and can therefore be a very strong driving force for our actions. However the experience of actually enjoying something, eating a good meal for instance, is mainly controlled by other chemicals such as opioids.

Dopamine is also involved in certain sensations that are opposite the sensations of pleasure and reward. Research has shown that dopamine is released when a person experiences fear and stress. The reason why dopamine is released in these situations is to make us more alert in order to help us escape a potentially dangerous situation, and also to help us learn to avoid similar situations in the future.

Dopamine also plays a big role in regulating movement, and the destruction of dopamine and the neurons that release and receive dopamine is what causes Parkinson’s Disease. In addition, dopamine plays a role in the proper functioning of memory, attention, emotional response and problem solving. Disorders such as social anxiety and schizophrenia have also been associated with low levels of dopamine, and dopamine has also been found to be involved in pain processing, the control of nausea and vomiting, and several other bodily functions.

 

How Does Dopamine Affect Libido And Erectile Functioning?

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a very important role in sexual functioning, and it is paramount for an erection to take place. It is one of the first chemicals to act in the erection process and it sets off a cascade of interactions among chemicals such as nitric oxide, serotonin, testosterone and others. In addition to be important for an erection to form, dopamine is also crucial for libido because dopamine is released in the brain when a man experiences the anticipation or desire for sex. Without this dopamine release, there would be no anticipation or urge for sex, and therefore no libido. To learn more about testosterone on Truelibido, please go here

Testosterone is a hormone that is a basic ingredient required for sexual functions to operate properly. Or put differently, adequate levels of testosterone are necessary in order to create an environment in which sexual activity can happen. And adequate levels of testosterone are in fact also required for dopamine to be manufactured. If a man has low testosterone levels, that would mean his body would normally not be able to produce adequate amounts of dopamine.

In response to sexual anticipation, testosterone is a fairly slow agent to act, and it therefore needs help to make things happen quickly. Dopamine, the neurotransmitter, can send signals almost immediately and is therefore used as a messenger in response to this sexual anticipation. When a man is anticipating or craving sex, dopamine is then released in the brain to communicate this to neurons. Therefore, dopamine is the chemical that activates sexual motivation.

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There is a also a very interesting interaction between testosterone, nitric oxide and dopamine. Testosterone is not only a necessary ingredient for dopamine to be created, but also a necessary ingredient for nitric oxide production to take place. Increased nitric oxide production in turn causes further dopamine release. And more dopamine will normally mean a stronger response to sexual stimulation. To learn more about nitric oxide on Truelibido, please go here.

There is evidence supporting the hypothesis that dopamine enhances male sexual function from studies on drugs that relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s Disease is caused by a deficiency of dopamine, and studies have shown that when Parkinson’s Disease patients received medication that increased dopamine levels, a side effect commonly noticed was increased sex drive. In addition, there is similar evidence from studies on medication to treat schizophrenia. Patients suffering from schizophrenia who were treated with medication that reduced dopamine, frequently reported side effects of decreased libido and erectile dysfunction.

Animal studies have also reported the same findings. Research on animals have shown that administration of agents that increase dopamine caused more animals to display sexual behaviour. It also lead to restoring sexual behaviour in animals that earlier displayed sexual impairment, enhanced frequency of erections and sexual motivation, and also increased the number of copulatory sessions in animals.

 

Dopamine Deficiency

Dopamine deficiency can have many causes, but some of the most common ones are: stress, alcohol / substance abuse, obesity, poor diet, lack of sleep, exposure to heavy metals, and excessive exposure to porn and sex.

Dopamine deficiency normally means that there is an inadequate production of dopamine in the brain. For instance, when the body is out of balance due to substance abuse, the body may produce less dopamine than normal. However, dopamine deficiency can also occur if the dopamine receptors in the brain are unable to connect with the neurotransmitter dopamine. If no or only a weak connection is made, the dopamine will therefore not be able to send the message it intended to send.

This can happen if the dopamine receptors become overloaded with dopamine and therefore become less receptive to the dopamine. The dopamine receptors can in other words go numb. This will often happen if a man over-exposes himself to some kind of stimulation that causes excessive dopamine levels to be produced. Pornography, masturbation or simply too much sex may have this effect.

When the brain is overloaded with these sexual sensations, the dopamine receptors get exhausted and stop working properly. In order for the same dopamine message to be communicated as before, more dopamine is needed. In order for more dopamine to be produced, stronger forms of sexual stimulation are needed. This can continue all the way to create addiction and to completely exhaust the reward system in the brain. To learn more about my experiences with pornography, please go here.

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Research Studies

Antony D. Abraham, Kim A. Neve, K. Matthew Lattal. Dopamine and extinction: A convergence of theory with fear and reward circuitry. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. Volume 108, February 2014, Pages 65–77.

Bowers Jr MB, Van Woert M, Davis L. Sexual behavior during l-dopa treatment for Parkinsonism. Am J Psychiatry 1971;127:1691 – 3.

Brown E, Brown GM, Kofman O, Quarrington B. Sexual function and affect in Parkinsonian men treated with l-dopa. Am J Psychiatry 1978;135:1552 – 5.

Dominguez JM, Hull EM. Stimulation of the medial amygdala enhances medial preoptic dopamine release: implications for male rat sexual behavior. Brain Research. 2001;917:225–229.

Dominguez JM, Hull EM. Dopamine, the Medial Preoptic Area, and Male Sexual Behavior. Physiol Behav. 2005 Oct 15;86(3):356-68.

Dominguez J, Riolo JV, Xu Z, Hull EM. Regulation by the medial amygdala of copulation and medial preoptic dopamine release. Journal of Neuroscience. 2001;21:349–355.

Jonathan P. Fadok, Tavis M. K. Dickerson, Richard D. Palmiter. Dopamine Is Necessary for Cue-Dependent Fear Conditioning. The Journal of Neuroscience, 9 September 2009, 29(36): 11089-11097; doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1616-09.2009.

Jonathan P. Fadok. Assessing the role of dopamine in fear conditioning using genetic mouse models. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, Vol 71(12-B), 2011. pp. 7267. Giuliano F, Allard J. Dopamine and male sexual function. Eur Urol. 2001 Dec;40(6):601-8.

Jean-Marc Fellous, Roland E. Suri. The Roles of Dopamine. The Handbook of Brain Theory and Neural Networks, Second edition, (M.A. Arbib, Ed.)

Heaton JP. Central neuropharmacological agents and mechanisms in erectile dysfunction: the role of dopamine. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2000;24:561 – 9.

Hull EM, Du J, Lorrain DS, Matuszewich L. Extracellular dopamine in the medial preoptic area: implications for sexual motivation and hormonal control of copulation. Journal of Neuroscience. 1995;15:7465–7471.

Elaine M. Hull, John W. Muschamp, Satoru Sato. Dopamine and serotonin: influences on male sexual behaviour. Physiology & Behavior 83 (2004) 291 – 307

Jenkins RB, Groh RH. Mental symptoms in Parkinsonian patients treated with l-dopa. Lancet 1970;2:177 – 9.

Mones RJ, Elizan TS, Siegel GJ. Evaluation of l-dopa therapy in Parkinson’s Disease. N Y State J Med 1970;70:2309 – 18.

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Oei NY, Rombouts SA, Soeter RP, van Gerven JM, Both S. Dopamine modulates reward system activity during subconscious processing of sexual stimuli. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2012 Jun;37(7):1729-37. DOI: 10.1038/npp.2012.19.

Pfaus JG. Dopamine: helping males copulate for at least 200 million years. Behav Neurosci. 2010 Dec;124(6):877-80; discussion 881-3. DOI: 10.1037/a0021823.

Pfaus JG, Damsma G, Nomikos GG, Wenkstern DG, Blaha CD, Phillips AG, Fibiger HC. Sexual behavior enhances central dopamine transmission in the male rat. Brain Research. 1990;530:345–348.

Putnam SK, Du J, Sato S, Hull EM. Testosterone restoration of copulatory behavior correlates with medial preoptic dopamine release in castrated male rats. Hormones & Behavior. 2001;39:216–224.

Schultz W. Multiple dopamine functions at different time courses. Annu Rev Neurosci. 2007;30:259-88.

Shapiro SK. Hypersexual behavior complicating levodopa (I-dopa) therapy. Minn Med 1973;56:58 – 9.

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