Anticipation Of Being With Partner Boosts Testosterone In Women, Study
Lisa Dawn Hamilton and Cindy Meston, Department of Psychology, University of Texas have found evidence that women’s testosterone increases dramatically as they anticipate seeing their partner after a long absence.
In their study, women in long distance relationships provided five saliva samples to be analyzed for testosterone. They were collected at least one week before seeing their partner (and at least 2 weeks since their last visit), the day before seeing their partner, when they were with their partner, but prior to engaging in sexual activity, the day after their first sexual activity, and 3 days after they were separated from their partners.
Results showed that testosterone levels bottomed out after two weeks away from their partners and were the highest the day before they were to be reunited with their partners as well as the day after sexual activity. After 3 days of absence, testosterone in women returned to their lower state.
Interestingly, upon being reunited, testosterone in women did not increase, but rather returned to its baseline. This, as the researchers explain may be related back to anxiety and nervousness which produced cortisol dampening testosterone levels.
The results are consistent with what is seen in men where testosterone increases in anticipation of sexual activity.
Previous studies on women have been mixed. Some studies have shown an increase in testosterone after sexual activity while others have not.
In another study, women in relationships where their partner lived in the same city had lower overall testosterone than single women, while those in long distance relationships were not significantly different.
This suggests that it is the anticipation of sex that drives the testosterone response in women but only after a longer absence and that actually being with a partner decreases overall testosterone.
Testosterone is not the dominant hormone in women but does form a part of women’s motivation. That testosterone declines when in the presence of men is not terribly surprising as evolution has programmed women to be more passive with respect to sexual activity.
Testosterone might function to motivate women toward taking the risk to get closer to men, but when men near them, their natural physiology seems to abruptly apply the brakes permitting her partner to take over sexual initiation.
The varied response of women with respect to testosterone represents the varied nature of women’s motivation and desire for risk of which sex entails. Testosterone may function in a push-no-push mechanism to goad women on, but then at the last second, pull the emergency brake.
The obvious conclusion is that nature favoured women over the years who were released from the ‘sexual spell’ of testosterone to reduce their likelihood of having sex in a less than careful manner. The women who’s testosterone drops when near men, is also one who is more cautious and able to consider other factors besides passion when evaluating her decision to have sex, or not have sex. The motivation of men is more half-hazard and reckless, in large part due to his more clouded testosterone laden judgment.
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Hamilton, Lisa Dawn and Cindy M. Meston. The Effects of Partner Togetherness on Salivary Testosterone in Women in Long Distance Relationships. Hormones and Behavior. 2010. 57: 198-202.
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