Encyclopedia of Sexuality and Gender

Living Edition
| Editors: Amy D. Lykins


Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-59531-3_10-1



The historical origins of dopamine as a regulator of sexuality came from patient reports in conjunction with neurological (e.g., Parkinson’s disease) or endocrine (e.g., hyperprolactinemia) disorders of dopamine dysregulation. More detailed studies in humans and other animals identified a broad range of effects of dopamine neurotransmission on each of the components of sexual behavior, i.e., libido, sexual arousal, and orgasm. Moreover, through there are nuanced differences between males and females, dopamine has essentially the same effects in both biological sexes. Simply seeing a congruent potential sexual partner will activate one of the main dopamine pathways (the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system) in males and females. Arousal leading up to sexual intercourse also activates the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system, whereas hypothalamic dopamine is more associated with intercourse itself. Orgasm,...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeuroscienceUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyHaverford CollegeHaverfordUSA