The endocrine effects of visual erotic stimuli in normal men

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1990;15(3):207-16. doi: 10.1016/0306-4530(90)90031-4.


Endocrine responses to erotic stimulation in the laboratory were assessed in eight normal subjects. Each subject was tested on two occasions. On one occasion only neutral stimuli were involved. After 15 min baseline, 30 min of films were shown. For the erotic condition on the other occasion, two 10-min erotic films were interspersed with 10 min of neutral film. Fifteen-minute blood samples were taken from the start of each test and continued for 5 hr after the films. Plasma was assayed for testosterone, LH, prolactin, cortisol, ACTH and beta-endorphin. Urine was collected for 4 hr before and 4 hr after the films; this was assayed for adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine. Sexual arousal occurred in response to the erotic films in all subjects, as shown by erectile and subjective responses. There were no significant changes in hormone or catecholamine levels following either the erotic or the neutral stimuli, except for a rise in cortisol during the neutral but not the erotic film. These results indicate that in the laboratory, substantial sexual response can occur without accompanying endocrine or biochemical changes.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood
  • Adult
  • Catecholamines / blood
  • Catecholamines / urine
  • Hormones / blood
  • Hormones / metabolism*
  • Hormones / urine
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Male
  • Penile Erection / physiology
  • Prolactin / blood
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Testosterone / blood
  • beta-Endorphin / blood


  • Catecholamines
  • Hormones
  • Testosterone
  • beta-Endorphin
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Prolactin
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone