The sun and your libido

Monday 23rd May, 2016


Is it because we wear lighter clothing, and so show more skin? Or is it the fact that sunglasses are just sexier? Or maybe the sweaty state we’re constantly in is reminiscent of last night’s coitus.

Well, here comes science to kill the magic: why does more exposure to sunlight increase our libido?


Image: Quah Say

Most millennials come to know of this neurotransmitter either through academic pursuits, or by taking illicit substances and then Googling their effects.

Simply put, it regulates mood and good levels generally mean good moods.

It’s scientifically established that sunlight intake directly affects your serotonin levels. It’s socially established that feeling good directly affects your libido.

If your brain is happy, the body often follows.

Melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH)

Increased exposure to the sun’s UV rays raises levels of this hormone.

For women, MSH increases arousal and enhances orgasms.

It is anti-inflammatory and regulates melanin, a naturally occurring hormone. On top of increasing colour production in hair, melanin is also the layer of pigment that darkens the skin- we know we like tanned skin.

Oxytocin, the better known factor in attraction, may enhance our sense of comfort and lead to flustered smiles and coy brushes of the hand, but MSH is what gets us riled and randy.


Probably the cause of every war in history.

But before you condemn our tendency to spontaneously arm-wrestle, try this: our production of vitamin D is directly affected by our exposure to sunlight- specifically, ultraviolet B (UVB).

Vitamin D, in turn, is vital in testosterone production. Testosterone drives the libido, amongst other things, and also can lead to aggression.

Reverse seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Whilst its namesake is fairly self-explanatory, its mechanisms may not be. Sometimes known as “summer depression”.

Disruption of melatonin production, the hormone that makes you sleepy, and circadian rhythms have often been cited as the result of too much sunlight or heat.

Those unlucky enough to develop this sad disorder report loss of appetite, bad moods and even insomnia.

So unless you prefer to conduct your lascivious business in the sun, a satisfying balance can surely be found.