The brain chemical serotonin seems to truly have a direct affect on sexuality, at least in mice cages for now. More often than not, persons taking serotonin reuptake inhibitors for depression often link a decline in sexual prowess to these prescriptions. Now, it is found in mice that when you take this chemical away, they want to breed like bunnies or may even be bisexual. Their sex drives became so high that they would attempt intercourse with anything that moved within their cages.
Researchers at Beijing’s National Institute of Biological Sciences worked with male mice that lack a gene which makes serotonin, they introduced mice of both genders into their cages and observed the actions. Simply put, giving the rodents too much serotonin and they were not able to obtain erections, but when taken away, their drives just wouldn’t stop no matter with fellow males or females.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of compounds typically used as antidepressants in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, and some personality disorders. They are also typically effective and used in treating some cases of insomnia.
SSRIs are believed to increase the extracellular level of the neurotransmitter serotonin by inhibiting its reuptake into the presynaptic cell, increasing the level of serotonin in the synaptic cleft available to bind to the postsynaptic receptor. They have varying degrees of selectivity for the other monoamine transporters, with pure SSRIs having only weak affinity for the noradrenaline and dopamine transporter.
SSRIs are the most widely prescribed antidepressants in many countries.
The mice that had absolutely no serotonin running in their veins ended up mounting both male and female partners about 80% of the time.
Additionally, approximately 80% of the human body’s total serotonin is located in the enterochromaffin cells in the gut, where it is used to regulate intestinal movements. The remainder is synthesized in serotonergic neurons where it has various functions. These include the regulation of mood, appetite, sleep, as well as muscle contraction. Serotonin also has some cognitive functions, including in memory and learning. Modulation of serotonin at synapses is thought to be a major action of several classes of pharmacological antidepressants.
Although the question of to whom a male directs his mating attempts is a critical one in social interactions, little is known about the molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling mammalian sexual preference.
The American Psychological Association states that sexual orientation “describes the pattern of sexual attraction, behavior and identity e.g. homosexual (aka gay, lesbian), bisexual, and heterosexual (aka straight).” Sexual attraction, behavior and identity may be incongruent, as sexual attraction and/or behavior may not necessarily be consistent with identity. Some individuals identify themselves as heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual without having had any sexual experience. Others have had homosexual experiences but do not consider themselves to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Likewise, self-identified gay or lesbian individuals may occasionally sexually interact with members of the opposite sex but do not identify as bisexual.
The question now is if the brain’s serotonin levels influence sexual preference. Human trials anyone?
Source: The Nature International Weekly Journal of Science
Written by Sy Kraft, B.A.