Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
February 02, 2022
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Increased oxytocin levels observed in men with hypersexual disorder

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Men with hypersexual disorder have higher levels of oxytocin compared with men without the disorder, and behavioral therapy to resolve hypersexual disorder was linked to reductions in oxytocin, according to study data.

Andreas Chatzittofis

“There is a lack of knowledge regarding the pathophysiology underlying hypersexual disorder, and this is the first study to indicate a role for oxytocin’s involvement,” Andreas Chatzittofis, MD, PhD, a lecturer in psychiatry at the Medical School, University of Cyprus in Nicosia, and the department of clinical sciences at Umeå University in Sweden, told Healio. “In this study, we discovered that men with compulsive sexual behavior disorder had higher oxytocin levels compared with healthy men. Cognitive behavior therapy led to a reduction in both hypersexual behavior and oxytocin levels.”

Oxytocin levels in men with hypersexual disorder
Men with hypersexual disorder have higher levels of oxytocin compared with healthy controls. Data were derived from Flanagan J, et al. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2022;doi:10.1210/clinem/dgac015.

Chatzittofis and colleagues conducted a single-center longitudinal study at the ANOVA clinic at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden in 2013 and 2014. Men aged 18 years and older with a clinical diagnosis of hypersexual disorder who were seeking therapy and had a stable psychoactive medication regimen for at least 3 months were enrolled. The Hypersexual Disorder Screening Inventory was used to screen for hypersexual disorder and the Hypersexual Disorder: Current Assessment Scale was conducted to assess symptom severity during a recent 2-week period. Blood samples were collected for all participants, and levels were compared with those of a control group of 38 healthy men without hypersexual disorder. Within the hypersexual disorder group, 30 men were randomly assigned to participate in a manual-based cognitive behavioral therapy program for 7 weeks. The program included seven modules presented in group sessions through lectures and written materials.

The study was published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Men with hypersexual disorder had higher mean plasma oxytocin levels compared with healthy controls (31 pM vs. 16.9 pM; P < .001). Scores on both the Hypersexual Disorder Screening Inventory (Spearman rank correlation = 0.649; P = .0000002) and Hypersexual Disorder: Current Assessment Scale (Spearman rank correlation = 0.661; P = .0000002) were positively correlated with oxytocin levels at baseline.

In the subgroup of men who completed cognitive behavioral therapy, there was a reduction in mean oxytocin levels from 30.5 pM before treatment to 20.2 pM posttreatment (P = .0000019). Therapy participants also had a positive correlation in changes to their Hypersexual Disorder: Current Assessment Scale score with plasma oxytocin levels (r = 0.388; P = .0344).

“Oxytocin holds promise as a potential biomarker for hypersexual disorder diagnostics and as a measure of disease severity,” the researchers wrote. “Taken together, these findings motivate further research to elucidate the explicit role of oxytocin in hypersexual disorder pathophysiology. Importantly, additional studies excluding potential confounding factors from recent sexual activity are needed before causality can be inferred.”

For more information:

Andreas Chatzittofis, MD, PhD, can be reached at chatzittofis.andreas@ucy.ac.cy.