Prolactinergic and dopaminergic mechanisms underlying sexual arousal and orgasm in humans
Dopaminergic mechanisms play a major role in modulating sexual behavior in humans and animals. Animal data demonstrate important interactions between the dopaminergic and prolactinergic system. As recently demonstrated, dopamine agonists have facilitatory properties for penile erection but may also enhance sexual drive and orgasmic quality. In contrast, chronic elevations of prolactin inhibit appetitive as well as consummatory parameters of sexual behavior. Recent human studies show a marked increase in prolactin after orgasm in males and females. Concerning the biological relevance of acute prolactin alterations after orgasm, prolactin might serve as a neuroendocrine reproductive reflex for peripheral reproductive organs. Alternatively, prolactin may feedback to dopaminergic neurons in the central nervous system and thereby modulate sexual drive and satiation. Here, we provide a brief overview of the physiology of dopamine and prolactin in regulating sexual behavior. In addition, recent experimental and clinical evidence for a postulated feedback mechanism for prolactin and its implications for orgasmic disorders are discussed.