Pharmacological and physiological aspects of sexual exhaustion in male rats


Dr Alonso Fernández-Guasti, Departamento de Farmacobiología, Cinvestav, Calz. De los Tenorios 235, Col. Granjas Coapa, Mexico 14330 D.F., Mexico. E-mail:


The present article reviews the current findings on the interesting phenomenon of sexual satiety. Knut Larsson in 1956 reported on the development of sexual exhaustion in the male rat after repeated copulation. We have studied the process and found the following results. (1) One day after 4 hours of ad libitum copulation, two-thirds of the population showed complete inhibition of sexual behavior, while the other third displayed a single ejaculatory series from which they did not recover. (2) Several pharmacological treatments, including 8-OH-DPAT, yohimbine, naloxone and naltrexone, reverse this sexual satiety, indicating that the noradrenergic, serotonergic and opiate systems are involved in this process. Indeed, direct neurochemical determinations showed changes in various neurotransmitters during sexual exhaustion. (3) Given enough stimulation, by changing the stimulus female, sexual satiety was prevented, suggesting that there are motivational components of the sexual inhibition that characterizes sexual exhaustion. (4) The GABA antagonist bicuculline, or the electrical stimulation of the medial preoptic area, did not reverse sexual exhaustion. These data suggest, on the one hand, that sexual exhaustion and the postejaculatory interval (which is shortened by bicuculline administration) are not mediated by similar mechanisms and, on the other, that the medial preoptic area does not regulate sexual satiety. (5) The androgen receptor density in brain areas closely related to the expression of masculine sexual behavior, such as the medial preoptic nucleus, was drastically reduced in sexually exhausted animals. Such reduction was specific to certain brain areas and was not related to changes in the levels of androgens. These results suggest that changes in brain androgen receptors account for the inhibition of sexual behavior present during sexual exhaustion. (6) The recovery process of sexual satiety after 4 hours of ad libitum copulation reveals that, after 4 days, only 63% of the males are able to show sexual behavior while after 7 days all animals display copulatory activity.