Introduction: Melanocortins affect multiple physiological responses, including sexual behaviors. Bremelanotide is a synthetic peptide melanocortin analog of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone that is an agonist at melanocortin receptors MC3R and MC4R.
Aim: To evaluate a single intranasal dose of bremelanotide for potential effects on physiological and subjective measurements of sexual arousal and desire in premenopausal women with sexual arousal disorder.
Main outcome measures: Change in vaginal pulse amplitude during neutral and erotic videos after treatment with bremelanotide or placebo and subjects' perceptions of physiological and sexual response within 24 hours of treatment with bremelanotide or placebo.
Methods: Eighteen premenopausal women with a primary diagnosis of female sexual arousal disorder were randomly assigned to receive a single intranasal dose of 20 mg bremelanotide or matching placebo in a double-blind manner during the first in-clinic treatment session, and the alternate medication during the second in-clinic treatment session. During each session, subjects viewed a 20-minute neutral video followed by a 20-minute sexually explicit video. Vaginal photoplethysmography was used to monitor vaginal vasocongestion and questionnaires were used to evaluate perceptions of sexual response within the following 24-hour period.
Results: More women reported moderate or high sexual desire following bremelanotide treatment vs. placebo (P = 0.0114), and a trend toward more positive responses regarding feelings of genital arousal occurred after bremelanotide compared with placebo (P = 0.0833). Among women who attempted sexual intercourse within 24 hours after treatment, significantly more were satisfied with their level of sexual arousal following bremelanotide, compared with placebo (P = 0.0256). Vaginal vasocongestion did not change significantly while viewing erotic videos following bremelanotide administration compared with placebo.
Conclusion: This preliminary evaluation suggests the potential for bremelanotide to positively affect desire and arousal in women with female sexual arousal disorder and indicates that bremelanotide is a promising candidate for further evaluation in an at-home study.