Videogames Might Influence Male Sexual Function, Study Reports

Researchers have found a possible correlation between videogames and men’s sexual health.

Their preliminary study, published online last month in Journal of Sexual Medicine, found that men who play videogames more than an hour each day are less likely to have premature ejaculation (PE) and more likely to have decreased sexual desire when compared to “non-gamers.”

Electronic entertainment has become more popular over the last several decades. While some researchers have investigated the effects of videogames on health, there has been little focus on male sexual health.

The research team analyzed data from 396 men between the ages of 18 and 50 who had had sexual intercourse during the previous four weeks. About 72% of the participants, called “gamers,” played videogames for at least an hour each day. The rest of the group played less than that or not at all.

The men completed two questionnaires: The International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) and the Premature Ejaculation Diagnostic Tool (PEDT). The IIEF assesses five domains of male sexual health: erectile function, orgasmic function, sexual desire, intercourse satisfaction, and overall satisfaction. The PEDT evaluates the severity of PE.

Participants also asked questions about their age, marital status, videogame playing, and sexual activity within the past month.

A link to the questionnaires was posted on social media sites. Some users shared the link with their own social media community as well.

The gamers’ and non-gamers’ average ages were 27 and 28, respectively. Most men in both groups were heterosexual; 3.5% of the gamers and 9.2% of the non-gamers identified as homosexual. About 71% of the gamers were in stable relationships. For non-gamers, this rate was 68%.

IIEF scores revealed little difference between the groups in terms of erectile function, orgasmic function, and overall satisfaction. However, non-gamers had slightly better median scores for the sexual desire domain.

Gamers generally had significantly lower scores on the PEDT, indicating a lower prevalence of PE in this group. Based on PEDT scores, all of the gamers fell into the “no PE” category. But only 31% of the non-gamers met this description. In addition, 34% of the non-gamers were considered to have “probable PE” and 35% were deemed to have PE.

The authors suggested that the “reward system” of videogames and its effects on the dopaminergic system might be at play. The neurotransmitter dopamine, they noted, is a “pleasure hormone” involved with ejaculation and orgasm. It also rises when gamers perform well.

“Gaming, as a source of repeated dopamine peaks, might lead to an enhanced steady-state homeostasis and to decreased activation of receptors given the same levels of dopamine; this might cause tolerance in the ejaculatory reflex and a decreased interest in intercourse, providing an explanation to our results,” the authors wrote.

They added that “videogame stress” may lead to elevated levels of the hormone prolactin, which can sometimes hamper sex drive and interfere with ejaculation.

The authors acknowledged that they did not know the men’s medical history or hormonal status, which could affect sexual function. However, such knowledge would not lead to “definite conclusions,” they said, and they called for interventional studies and larger-scale investigations.

“Identifying this association [between electronic entertainment and male sexual behavior] might allow a different approach to the patient with PE and loss of libido,” they concluded.

Resources

The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Sansone, Andrea, MD, et al.
“Relationship Between Use of Videogames and Sexual Health in Adult Males”
(Full-text. Published online: June 1, 2017)
http://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(17)31149-9/fulltext

MedlinePlus

“Prolactin blood test”
(Review date: August 7, 2016)
https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003718.htm

Psychology Today

“Dopamine”
https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/dopamine