Sharing a bottle of red wine may seem like the best recipe for a romantic interlude. However, the evening may not turn out as planned according to a Concordia University study, which evaluated the effect of a wide range of drugs, including alcohol, on sexual behaviour. The findings, published in the journal Hormones and Behavior, definitively show that despite our preconceived notions, use of many recreational drugs can cause a loss in that lovin' feeling.
"We reviewed data from more than 100 different studies, including original data from our own studies, to systematically examine the effects of drugs on sexual performance," says Concordia psychology researcher, Dr. James Pfaus. "In addition, we evaluated the aphrodisiac claims of some of these pharmaceuticals. In this broad-based and wide-reaching study, it appears that drugs and sex don't mix well and there is no global love-potion."
Animal models provide the best information
Dr. Pfaus and his colleagues at Concordia's Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology have been studying the effects of aphrodisiacs on sexual behaviour for many years and narrowed their research to those studies involving animal models. "Only animal model studies can provide direct cause and effect data and physiological information," says Dr. Pfaus.
A few interesting results
They characterized the effect of two classes of drugs: stimulants, such as caffeine and cocaine, and depressants, such as morphine and alcohol. Although the majority of these drugs decreased sexual performance there were a few interesting results including:
- Acute administration of cocaine facilitated penile erection in male rats
- Acute caffeine consumption facilitated sexual behaviour in both male and female rats
- Low levels of alcohol removed inhibitory tendencies
- Although a high level of alcohol disrupted sexual performance, this effect wore off with time
"Sex and drugs may enhance one another under some circumstances, but it is clear from the data that drug use debilitates sexual responding in the majority of situations," says Dr. Pfaus.
The study was authored James G. Pfaus, Mark F. Wilkins, Nina DiPietro, Michael Benibgui, Rachel Toledano, Anna Rowe, Melissa Castro Couch, from Concordia University. Funding was provided through grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Seagram Fund for Academic Innovation.
- James G. Pfaus, Mark F. Wilkins, Nina DiPietro, Michael Benibgui, Rachel Toledano, Anna Rowe, Melissa Castro Couch. Inhibitory and disinhibitory effects of psychomotor stimulants and depressants on the sexual behavior of male and female rats. Hormones and Behavior, 2010; 58 (1): 163 DOI: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2009.10.004
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