Pharmacological analysis of male rat sexual behavior

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 1987 Winter;11(4):365-89. doi: 10.1016/s0149-7634(87)80008-8.


Pharmacological influences on male rat sexual behavior are reviewed in an attempt to identify neurotransmitters and their respective receptor types that regulate various factors comprising the behavioral pattern. Evidence is presented that: (1) serotonergic influence is generally inhibitory to sexual behavior, although two receptor subtypes may lower ejaculation threshold; (2) dopaminergic agonists facilitate several aspects of copulatory behavior and ex copula genital responses; (3) noradrenergic activity appears to increase sexual arousal; (4) cholinergic agonists facilitate ejaculation, or in some cases, delay or prevent initiation of copulation; (5) GABA agonists inhibit sexual responses both in and ex copula; (6) opiate agonists appear to inhibit copulation and penile reflexes, although antagonists have mixed effects; (7) ACTH and MSH peptides promote copulatory behavior and genital responses; (8) oxytocin facilitates ex copula penile responses, but may contribute to postejaculatory refractoriness; and (9) long-term exposure to prolactin inhibits sexual behavior and penile responses. Although some progress has been made in identifying neurotransmitter-receptor effects on behavioral components, copulatory behavior is complex and no drug has been found to affect only a single component. Furthermore, drug specificity is only relative.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Catecholamines / metabolism
  • Catecholamines / physiology*
  • Copulation / drug effects
  • Male
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Neuropeptides / physiology
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Dopamine / drug effects
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / drug effects
  • Receptors, Serotonin / drug effects
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Serotonin / physiology*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / physiology


  • Catecholamines
  • Neuropeptides
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter
  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • Serotonin
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid