Bremelanotide PT-141 – Treatment for Sexual Dysfunction in Women and Men

Sexual dysfunction is a common problem that faces both women and men in different ways. Some men experience difficulty to achieve or maintain erections. On the other hand, women may struggle to experience sexual arousal. Such issues impact people’s sexual function and satisfaction, reducing their sexual activity or eliminating it completely due to embarrassment, anxiety, stress, or fear about their abnormal sex drive. But sexual dysfunction can be treated with various pharmaceuticals including the FDA-approved bremelanotide PT-141 which directly targets the nervous system.

What Is Bremelanotide PT-141?

Bremelanotide PT-141 is a modified synthetic peptide derivative of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH). MSH is a natural hormone found in the body. It binds to melanocortin receptors (MC) in the brain which play a role in skin pigmentation and appetite. Recently, MC receptors (1) were found to be involved in pathways related to sex drive and sexual function as well.

Melanotan II is a synthetic analog of MSH which acts as a melanocortin receptor agonist; it is used to increase skin pigmentation for tanning purposes. However, after Melanotan II proved effective in stimulating erections (2) in men, scientists decided to expand their work on the drug as a treatment for sexual dysfunction. They developed bremelanotide PT-141 as a modified version of melanotan II. Bremelanotide PT-141 is currently used to treat sexual dysfunction in both women and men.

How Does Bremelanotide PT-141 Work?

A form of peptide therapy, bremelanotide PT-141 works by binding to MC receptors, triggering dopamine pathways in the brain. Patients with low levels of dopamine experience low libido or sex drive. Dopamine hormone is known for its role in stimulating feelings of pleasure. It improves sexual performance through heightened libido and arousal.

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What Sexual Dysfunction Symptoms Does PT-141 Treat?

Symptoms of sexual dysfunction can vary from one person to another. People can experience symptoms that are physical, mental, or both. They include:

  • Low sex drive/libido
  • Lack of interest in sexual activity
  • Inability to feel aroused prior to or during sex
  • Failure to achieve or maintain penile erections
  • Stress and vaginal discomfort during sex
  • Pain during intercourse due to lack of lubrication
  • Inability to achieve orgasm

Benefits of PT-141 include enhanced physical and psychological well-being:

  • Improved sexual desire and libido
  • Boost in sexual satisfaction
  • Better, more enjoyable sexual activity
  • Healthy sex life with less stress and anxiety
  • Increased self confidence
  • Enhanced mood and self-esteem
  • A more intimate relationship between partners

Bremelanotide PT-141 For Sexual Dysfunction In Women

Sexual dysfunction can impact women at different stages of their life. Almost 40% of women struggle with sexual dysfunction. Female sexual dysfunction (3) can entail a wide spectrum of symptoms including low sexual desire or problems with experiencing or maintaining sexual arousal during sexual intercourse. At a young age, premenopausal women may experience a loss of sexual desire or problems with sexual arousal and intimacy. For example, hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or HSDD, is characterized by the loss of interest in sexual activity for at least 6 months. Millions of women suffer from HSDD but few find an effective treatment to boost their sex drive and restore a healthy sex life with their partner.

If the cause of their sexual dysfunction is not linked to a specific underlying medical problem, women can greatly benefit from bremelanotide PT-141. Women report (4) higher sexual desire and improved arousal during intercourse after using bremelanotide PT-141. Bremelanotide PT-141 has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of HSDD in women The approved drug is going to be released as a an oral tablet under the name Vyleesi.

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Bremelanotide PT-141 For Sexual Dysfunction In Men

Viagra and Cialis are the most common drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) in men. Both drugs belong to a class of pharmaceuticals called phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE-5) inhibitors. PDE-5 inhibitors act by targeting the vascular system; they increase the blood flow into the penis to trigger and prolong better erections. On the other hand, bremelanotide PT-141 belongs to the melanocortin class so it doesn’t target the vascular system of the penis but acts on the brain instead. By stimulating MC receptors in the brain, the drug acts on the nervous system. It triggers feelings of sexual arousal which lead to erections. Bremelanotide PT-141 can result in long-lasting penile erections that last for up to 2-6 hours.

How Long Does Bremelanotide PT-141 Take To Work?

Bremelanotide PT-141 works within a few minutes but its effect can begin within a few hours and may last up to 24-72 hours. If patients don’t notice any improvement in sexual arousal or performance after using bremelanotide PT-141 for a total of 8 weeks, they should consult with their doctor to stop the treatment and consider alternative more personalized therapies.

Dosing For Bremelanotide PT-141

Bremelanotide PT-141 is administered via a subcutaneous injection (an injection given in the deep layers of the skin) in the arm or abdomen approximately 40-45 minutes before the start of sexual intercourse. The standard dosage is usually 1-2 mg. In cases with a history of sexual dysfunction that has not been effectively treated with other medications, the dose of bremelanotide PT-141 can be increased up to 4 mg. Patients can only receive 1 injection per day and a maximum of 8 injections per month.

Recent clinical trials have been investigating the effectiveness of bremelanotide PT-141 as a nasal spray instead of an injection. A nasal spray formulation will be a lot easier to use, more comfortable, and cheaper than an injection. Promising results (5) show that the nasal spray is a safe and easy method of administration but it requires much higher doses to induce erections in men. Nasal spray formulations of bremelanotide PT-141 have not been approved by the FDA yet.

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What Are The Side Effects Of Bremelanotide PT-141?

Bremelanotide PT-141 is a relatively safe drug with rare side effects. The side effects of bremelanotide PT-141 are:

  • Nausea (common)
  • Discomfort or soreness around the injection site (common)
  • Vomiting (uncommon)
  • Flushing of the skin (uncommon)
  • Blurred vision (uncommon)
  • Headaches (uncommon)
  • Dizziness (uncommon)
  1. Faulkner LD, Dowling AR, Stuart RC, Nillni EA, Hill JW. Reduced melanocortin production causes sexual dysfunction in male mice with POMC neuronal insulin and leptin insensitivity. Endocrinology. 2015 Apr;156(4):1372-85. doi: 10.1210/en.2014-1788. Epub 2015 Jan 15. PMID: 25590244; PMCID: PMC4399313.
  2. Wessells H, Gralnek D, Dorr R, Hruby VJ, Hadley ME, Levine N. Effect of an alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone analog on penile erection and sexual desire in men with organic erectile dysfunction. Urology. 2000 Oct 1;56(4):641-6. doi: 10.1016/s0090-4295(00)00680-4. PMID: 11018622.
  3. Allahdadi KJ, Tostes RC, Webb RC. Female sexual dysfunction: therapeutic options and experimental challenges. Cardiovasc Hematol Agents Med Chem. 2009 Oct;7(4):260-9. doi: 10.2174/187152509789541882. PMID: 19538161; PMCID: PMC3008577.
  4. Diamond LE, Earle DC, Heiman JR, Rosen RC, Perelman MA, Harning R. An effect on the subjective sexual response in premenopausal women with sexual arousal disorder by bremelanotide (PT-141), a melanocortin receptor agonist. J Sex Med. 2006 Jul;3(4):628-638. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2006.00268.x. PMID: 16839319.
  5. Diamond LE, Earle DC, Rosen RC, Willett MS, Molinoff PB. Double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of the safety, pharmacokinetic properties and pharmacodynamic effects of intranasal PT-141, a melanocortin receptor agonist, in healthy males and patients with mild-to-moderate erectile dysfunction. Int J Impot Res. 2004 Feb;16(1):51-9. doi:10.1038/sj.ijir.3901139. PMID: 14963471.