Effects of transcranial photobiomodulation with near-infrared light on sexual dysfunction

Paolo Cassano, Christina Dording, Garrett Thomas, Simmie Foster, Albert Yeung, Mai Uchida, Michael R. Hamblin, Eric Bui, Maurizio Fava, David Mischoulon, Dan V. Iosifescu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Objectives: Transcranial photobiomodulation (t-PBM) consists of the delivery of near-infrared (NIR) or red light to the scalp designed to penetrate to subjacent cortical areas of the brain. NIR t-PBM has recently emerged as a potential therapy for brain disorders. This study assessed the efficacy of repeated sessions of NIR t-PBM on sexual dysfunction. Methods: We performed a secondary analysis of a double-blind clinical trial on t-PBM for major depressive disorder (MDD). Twenty individuals received NIR t-PBM (n = 9) or sham therapy (n = 11) twice a week for 8 weeks. Sexual desire, arousal, and orgasm were assessed using the Systematic Assessment for Treatment-Emergent Effects-Specific Inquiry (SAFTEE-SI). Results: The mean improvement in sexual function (decrease in SAFTEE sex total score) in subjects receiving t-PBM in NIR-mode was significantly greater than in subjects receiving sham-mode in the whole sample (NIR [n = 9] −2.55 ± 1.88 vs. sham [n = 11] −0.45 ± 1.21; z = 2.548, P = 0.011]) and in the completers (NIR [n = 5] −3.4 ± 1.95 vs. sham [n = 7] −0.14 ± 1.21; z = 2.576, P = 0.010]). Conclusion: This exploratory study with a small sample size indicates that repeated sessions of NIR t-PBM may be associated with therapeutic effects on sexual dysfunction. The latter appeared unrelated to the antidepressant effect of t-PBM in our cohort. Lasers Surg. Med. 51:127–135, 2019.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-135
Number of pages9
JournalLasers in Surgery and Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • photobiomodulation
  • sexual dysfunction
  • transcranial


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