Researchers at China’s prestigious Zhejiang University in Hangzhou are just about wrapping up a controversial study in which they’ve spent the past two years spraying oxytocin up the noses of homosexual men to see how it affects their sexual orientation.
For those unfamiliar, oxytocin (not to be confused with oxycontin) is a hormone that is produced in the brain. It’s involved in childbirth and breastfeeding, and is more broadly associated with things like trust, empathy, and sex. It’s sometimes called the “love hormone” or the “cuddle hormone” because levels of oxytocin shoot way up during hugs and orgasms.
However, oxytocin’s exact role in love and sexuality is not well understood, which has apparently inspired a team at Zhejiang University to wonder what would happen if you sprayed it regularly up gay men’s noses.
Registered with the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry in May of this year, the study, which is titled “A study on the effect of oxytocin on sexual orientation in men,” was pointed out recently on Twitter by Darius Longarino, a senior fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center.
Zhejiang University researchers are spraying oxytocin up gay men’s noses to study its effects on their sexual orientation. Researcher once told activist 30-40% “have changed.” The study ends next month—let’s be on the lookout for any “results.” https://t.co/KKvDmtJ4Ia
— Darius Longarino 龙大瑞 (@DariusLongarino) November 29, 2017
On the registry, the study states its objectives as researching “the feature of brain activity and social gender cognition in male homosexuals, and how oxytocin affects them.” In pursuit of these objectives, 20 volunteers were chosen at random. Among other things, the volunteers had to be right-handed, aged 18-40, and have “complete male homosexuality.”
These volunteers were then divided into two equal groups with one group spraying oxytocin up their noses, while the other did the same, only with a placebo saline solution.
The study began in October 2015 after being approved by an ethics committee and is set to end at the end of this year. Subjects are being measured on the Kinsey Scale, the Klein scale, through gender cognitive tests and functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain, and by testing their blood pressure. Hu Shaohua, the deputy director of the Department of Psychiatry at the Zhejiang University School of Medicine, is in charge of the study.
Sup China’s Jiayun Feng notes that the study generated quite a bit of controversy upon its initial posting on the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry earlier this year after it was discovered that on the space in the form for “target disease,” someone had written “male homosexual.”
The experiment has since been redefined as a “basic study,” not one intended to cure a disease, eliminating the need to fill in that blank.
And we’re curious to see what they find out. Back in 2015, researchers at Universidad Veracruzana in Mexico found that they were able to induce a conditioned homosexual preference in male rats by giving them oxytocin and the psychoactive drug quinpirole.
At the very least, it seems likely that one group of men had a much better time these last few years than the other group. A 2013 study found that taking oxytocin before lovemaking makes for a much more intense orgasm and feeling of satisfaction, particulary for men.