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How does winter affect libido?

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By : Vik

6 months ago

Does light have an impact on our sexuality? Have you ever wondered? If we look at the animal world, it is easy to see that the breeding periods coincide with the arrival of spring when the light is most intense! Even in the plant world, plants start photosynthesising when there is more light and this is how life starts again.  


But what about humans?   

Lucy Vincent (1), a neurobiologist, points out that the lack of light can lead to so-called “seasonal depression”. It is often mild but has a direct impact on libido and sexual desire.   

Loss of sexual desire, depression, fatigue, mood disorders and a reduced immune system are all signs that appear during the winter months, when there is less natural light. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) discovered in the 1980s that the human body is highly dependent on daylight. Light blocks the secretion of melatonin, the sleep hormone, and promotes the secretion of serotonin, a hormone that acts against depression.   

Autumn and winter are the two seasons with the least amount of natural light. As the light is less intense, less present with shorter days, your libido may also decrease. This is quite normal! It is important to understand that our lives are regulated by light. Certain cells in our retina capture and send light to a small gland located in the heart of the brain, the pineal gland (2). In this gland, light information controls the secretion of melatonin.   

This melatonin is a conductor of our organism. It tells each of your cells what time it is, as well as which season we are in. The less light there is, the more melatonin is secreted, and its role as a synchroniser of biological rhythms is crucial for health and longevity. The more light there is, the less melatonin is produced, so our energy is directed more towards daytime activities, intellectual or physical, such as sex, for example. To put it simply, the less melatonin is secreted, the more it allows sex hormones to act. As a result, each spring, our sex hormones become agitated under the effect of light. Light boosts sexual desire!   

As you will have understood, clear skies, early morning light and late evening light influence sexual desire. Even though we are rational beings, our sexual behaviour is regulated by the brain and in particular the hypothalamus, a very primitive part of the brain. The hypothalamus has a particular sensitivity to light and an effect on the production of sex hormones, particularly oestrogen and testosterone (3). Our receptivity is greater when light is most important, i.e., in spring and summer.   

Light affects our behaviour, and this is reflected in our sexuality. You will probably have already felt it, but when the weather is nice and the days are longer, you get out of your routine more easily. Maybe you enjoy a drink with friends and life in general more easily. Often, you feel more willing to spend time with your partner, to caress and touch each other, etc. These behaviours have a positive impact on your sexuality, a real boost to it!   


Let's not forget visual stimulation, which plays a significant role   

As Catherine Solano (4), a sexologist and andrologist, points out, the fact that we have more sex from May to October is partly due to visual stimulation. Everyone looks at each other! A survey conducted by the website TripAdvisor.fr showed that in spring and summer 72% of people who took part in the survey feel closer to their partner, 62% have more sex and 55% of people are more daring during this time of year.   


The wonders of natural light!  

Light is the number one source of vitamin D5, a vitamin that is very rarely present in our diet. Its most well-known function is to facilitate the assimilation of calcium into our bones. However, several studies now suggest that it plays an even more crucial role, comparable to that of a hormone!   


Light therapy to reduce the side effects of a lack of light in winter!  

Light therapy is the first-choice treatment for SAD (6). A typical light therapy session consists of exposing yourself to a lamp with a power of 10,000 lux (a unit of measurement for light illumination) at a distance of about thirty centimetres for thirty minutes. During this time, you can read or use a computer. Although an improvement in symptoms can be expected after two to four days of daily morning sessions, the therapeutic effects are usually observed after one to two weeks (7).   

So, get some sun or light therapy! Expose yourself to daylight in the morning, it will energise you for the day and help stimulate your sexuality! 



[1] L.Vincent,(2007), Petits arrangements avec l’amour, Odile Jacob  

[2] E.Schneider-Mark (2020), La glande pinéale, une analyse à 360°, éd. Experten Gruppe Verlag  

[3] F.Cour et al. (2013), Anatomie et physiologie de la sexualité, Progrès en Urologie, Volume 23, Issue 9, Page 547-561  

[4] C.Solano (2010), Les trois cerveaux sexuels - entre pulsion, affection et réflexion, comment vivre sa sexualité, Robert Laffont  

[5] C De Jaeger, P Cherin  (2010), Vitamine D: effets sur la santé. Recommandations de bon usage, Médecine & Longévité - Elsevier  

[6] E. Holsboer-Trachsler et al, (2016), Traitements aigu des épisodes dépressifs, Prof. Dr méd.; 16(35):716– 724.  

[7] Pharma-News, numéro 37, septembre 2006  




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