Article

Sexy thoughts: Effects of sexual cognitions on testosterone, cortisol, and arousal in women

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Abstract

Previous research suggests that sexual stimuli increase testosterone (T) in women and shows inconsistent effects of sexual arousal on cortisol (C), but effects of cognitive aspects of arousal, rather than behaviors or sensory stimuli, are unclear. The present study examined whether sexual thoughts affect T or C and whether hormonal contraceptive (HC) use moderated this effect, given mixed findings of HC use confounding hormone responses. Participants (79 women) provided a baseline saliva sample for radioimmunoassay. We created the Imagined Social Situation Exercise (ISSE) to test effects of imagining social interactions on hormones, and participants were assigned to the experimental (sexual) or one of three control (positive, neutral, stressful) conditions. Participants provided a second saliva sample 15 min post-activity. Results indicated that for women not using HCs, the sexual condition increased T compared to the stressful or positive conditions. In contrast, HC using women in the sexual condition had decreased T relative to the stressful condition and similar T to the positive condition. The effect was specific to T, as sexual thoughts did not change C. For participants in the sexual condition, higher baseline T predicted larger increases in sexual arousal but smaller increases in T, likely due to ceiling effects on T. Our results suggest that sexual thoughts change T but not C, baseline T levels and HC use may contribute to variation in the T response to sexual thoughts, and cognitive aspects of sexual arousal affect physiology.

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... Testosterone is a hormone often associated with competition and aggression outside the context of a close relationship (Archer, 2006;Carré and McCormick, 2008;Carré et al., 2011;Mazur and Booth, 1998;Mehta and Josephs, 2006). Specifically, several theoretical perspectives imply that testosterone reactivity serves adaptive functions in the context of social challenge or threat (Archer, 2006; van Anders et al., 2011;Wingfield et al., 1990) by preparing the individual for possible aggression or competition (Carré et al., 2011). Traditional perspectives, such as the challenge hypothesis (Wingfield et al., 1990), and related research (for meta-analyses see Archer, 2006;Geniole et al., 2017) have emphasized the role of testosterone reactivity during competition. ...
... Nevertheless, as noted, such perspectives have not been applied to contexts in which threat is experienced in close relationships. Further, recent perspectives such as the Steroid/Peptide Theory of Social Bonds (S/P theory) suggest that testosterone reactivity can extend to threats perceived by both men and women involved in a pair-bonded relationship (van Anders et al., 2011) by specifically positing that testosterone reactivity can prepare both men and women to respond to perceived threats to their status in the relationship. Indeed, men and women tend to engage in oppositional behavior with the same frequency (e.g., Hellmuth and Mcnulty, 2008;McNulty and Russell, 2010). ...
... Although other recent studies have examined the role of testosterone in romantic relationships (e.g., Kaiser and Powers, 2006;Roney and Gettler, 2015;van Anders et al., 2011;Wardecker et al., 2015), we are aware of only one study that has examined testosterone reactivity in the context of conversations in romantic couples (Peters et al., 2016), and that study did not examine conflict discussions. Peters et al. (2016) examined the association between testosterone reactivity and the selfregulation of emotions. ...
Article
When attempting to resolve relationship problems, individuals in close relationships sometimes challenge their partners with statements that oppose their partner's point of view. Such oppositional behaviors may undermine those partners' relational value and threaten their status within the relationship. We examined whether perceptions of opposition from a partner during a series of problem-solving interactions were associated with reactivity in testosterone levels and whether those associations were different for men and women. Fifty newlywed couples discussed four marital problems. Each member of the couple reported how much oppositional behavior they perceived from their partner during the discussions. Pre- and post-discussion saliva samples were assayed for testosterone. For men, but not for women, perceptions of oppositional behavior were associated with heightened testosterone reactivity, and this result replicated across three different measures of testosterone reactivity. Findings were specific to men's perceptions of oppositional behavior, and held controlling for objective measures of oppositional behavior coded from videos of the conversations. Results highlight the benefits of considering pair-bonded relationships as a novel context for investigating associations involving hormones and behavior. Findings also raise the possibility that sex differentiated hormonal reactions to opposition partly explain why conflict among heterosexual partners can be so divisive.
... Both the Challenge Hypothesis and the Biosocial Model are derived from research on males, and while both models have occasionally been applied to female behavior, neither model considers gender/sex specificities (Casto and Edwards 2016;Casto and Prasad 2017). A newer theory, the Steroid/Peptide Theory of Social Bonds (S/P Theory) (van Anders et al. 2011), explicitly makes overarching predictions across gender/sex while accounting for gender/sex specificities. Broadly, the S/P Theory proposes a tradeoff between higher testosterone and competition (defined as acquiring or defending resources, including mates, territories, status, and offspring) and lower testosterone and nurturance (defined as warm, loving, intimate contact). ...
... Like the Challenge Hypothesis, the S/P Theory predicts that competition should increase testosterone, but the S/P Theory acknowledges that what counts as "competition" can depend on social context, including gender socialization. For example, given that competition is less encouraged for women than men, even very subtle competitive contexts may seem salient for women and thus elicit a testosterone response (van Anders et al. 2011). That is, competition may be a more novel stimulus for women than men, because women are not socially encouraged to compete to the same extent men are. ...
... In support, one study found that a brief interaction involving wielding power increased women's testosterone but not men's ( van Anders et al. 2015). Parallel findings show that sexual contexts are more likely to change women's testosterone than men's (Goldey and van Anders 2011van Anders , 2012, whereas nurturant contexts (e.g., infant care) are more likely to change men's testosterone than women's ( van Anders et al. 2012), perhaps because they are cross-gender/sex experiences and engaged in less frequently ; van Anders et al. 2015). Therefore, a subtle competitive stimulus such as mental imagery of victory or defeat might be especially salient for women's testosterone. ...
Article
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Objective In humans and other species, winning or losing a competition elicits changes in testosterone that may influence engagement or performance in subsequent competitive events. Furthermore, anticipating or observing competition can change mood and testosterone, suggesting that cognitions surrounding competitive events may at least partially drive specific physiological and emotional responses. In the present study, we investigated the effect of imagined competition on mood and testosterone in women.Methods Participants (62 women) were randomly assigned to one of four conditions (high-investment win, high-investment loss, low-investment win, low-investment loss) and were asked to imagine and write about experiencing both the competition and its outcome. Salivary testosterone levels and self-reported mood were assessed before and after the competitive cognition task.ResultsAlthough imagining a competitive scenario was not salient enough to elicit significant changes in testosterone, imagining a high-investment competition and imagining a win each significantly increased feelings of self-assurance. Participants were more likely to write about their motivation to compete again when imagining a loss than when imagining a win, but testosterone did not predict including content about competing again.Conclusions Visualizing oneself winning a contest of personal importance increased feelings of self-assurance in the absence of a testosterone response in women. Future research is needed to determine how the combination of positive mental imagery and physical competition could influence mood and testosterone, and whether self-assurance induced by mental imagery can increase the chance of future victories.
... On the other hand, low testosterone levels are an indication that resources are being allocated to parental effort (Archer, 2006), for example, when taking care of children. Alternatively, the steroid/peptide theory of social bonds puts forward that the distinction between mating and parental effort is not specific enough (van Anders et al., 2011). Instead, high testosterone levels may only map onto mating effort if the behavior is competitive (e.g., competing for mates) but not when mating effort is nurturing (e.g., bonding with partner; van Anders, 2013). ...
... Results from such studies are mixed. In American and Canadian women cortisol levels decreased when seeing sexual images (respectively: Hamilton and Meston, 2011;Van Anders et al., 2009), whereas another study showed that cortisol increased in a sample of American women (Hamilton et al., 2008), and cortisol levels did not change in German community samples (Exton et al., 2000), American women (Heiman et al., 1991), and female American students (Goldey and van Anders, 2011). Finally, in a sample of mostly American students, cortisol levels did not increase when men were instructed to imagine a sexual situation, although higher cortisol levels did correlate with more self-reported sexual arousal (Goldey and van Anders, 2012). ...
... Our findings showed that testosterone levels increased in women during romantic speed-dating and decreased in women during the control condition. Although these changes were small-medium effect sizes, they are in line with theoretical models predicting that high testosterone levels relate to more mate acquisition (Archer, 2006;Roney, 2016;Zilioli and Bird, 2017) and more competitive behavior (van Anders et al., 2011). However, surprisingly, in men, testosterone levels did not change during romantic speed-dating and remained high throughout the event. ...
Article
There is evidence that testosterone and cortisol levels are related to the attraction of a romantic partner; testosterone levels relate to a wide range of sexual behaviors and cortisol is a crucial component in the response to stress. To investigate this, we conducted a speed-dating study among heterosexual singles. We measured salivary testosterone and cortisol changes in men and women (n = 79) when they participated in a romantic condition (meeting opposite-sex others, i.e., potential romantic partners), as well as a control condition (meeting same-sex others, i.e., potential friends). Over the course of the romantic speed-dating event, results showed that women's but not men's testosterone levels increased and cortisol levels decreased for both men and women. These findings indicate that men's testosterone and cortisol levels were elevated in anticipation of the event, whereas for women, this appears to only be the case for cortisol. Concerning the relationship between attraction and hormonal change, four important findings can be distinguished. First, men were more popular when they arrived at the romantic speed-dating event with elevated cortisol levels. Second, in both men and women, a larger change in cortisol levels during romantic speed-dating was related to more selectivity. Third, testosterone alone was unrelated to any romantic speed-dating outcome (selectivity or popularity). However, fourth, women who arrived at the romantic speed-dating event with higher testosterone levels were more selective when their anticipatory cortisol response was low. Overall, our findings suggest that changes in the hormone cortisol may be stronger associated with the attraction of a romantic partner than testosterone.
... Here we review human research that supports the idea that testosterone fluctuates rapidly in response to a variety of social cues, contexts, and interactions, and that such fluctuations may function to modulate cognitive, behavioural, and neural function relevant to human mating effortwith a particular focus on human aggression (for additional reviews on testosterone and human social behaviour, see Archer, 2006;Carré et al., 2011;Carré and Olmstead, 2015;Eisenegger et al., 2011;Geniole and Carré, 2017; van Anders, 2015;Knight and Mehta, 2014;Losecaat Vermeer et al., 2016;Oliveira and Oliveira, 2014;van Anders et al., 2011;van Anders and Watson, 2006;Zilioli and Bird, 2017). ...
... One possibility is that the effects of these reproduction-relevant cues on testosterone are driven by explicit sexual thoughts that form in response to exposure to the cues. Nevertheless, studies that have investigated directly the influence of sexual thoughts on testosterone concentrations suggest that such thoughts have differential effects depending on the use of hormonal contraceptives in womenwith decreases among women using, but increases among women not using, hormonal contraceptives (Goldey and van Anders, 2011) and on the content of the imagined sexual thoughts in menwith larger testosterone increases as the imagined encounter had less versus more nurturance-related content (Goldey et al., 2014). These data in men are consistent with the Steroid/Peptide Theory of Social Bonds (van Anders et al., 2011), which posits that intimacy between partners may lead to divergent testosterone responses, depending on whether it is more sexual (aimed at reproduction or pleasure), which would increase testosterone, or more nurturant (aimed at establishing and enhancing loving and warm social bonds), which would decrease testosterone. ...
... Nevertheless, studies that have investigated directly the influence of sexual thoughts on testosterone concentrations suggest that such thoughts have differential effects depending on the use of hormonal contraceptives in womenwith decreases among women using, but increases among women not using, hormonal contraceptives (Goldey and van Anders, 2011) and on the content of the imagined sexual thoughts in menwith larger testosterone increases as the imagined encounter had less versus more nurturance-related content (Goldey et al., 2014). These data in men are consistent with the Steroid/Peptide Theory of Social Bonds (van Anders et al., 2011), which posits that intimacy between partners may lead to divergent testosterone responses, depending on whether it is more sexual (aimed at reproduction or pleasure), which would increase testosterone, or more nurturant (aimed at establishing and enhancing loving and warm social bonds), which would decrease testosterone. Therefore, sexual thoughts may explain some of the cue-dependent and social interaction effects reviewed above, so long as they are low in nurturant-related content. ...
Article
It is well documented that testosterone concentrations change rapidly within reproductively relevant contexts (e.g., competition, mate-seeking). It has been argued that such rapid changes in testosterone may serve to adaptively fine-tune ongoing and/or future social behaviour according to one's social environment. In this paper, we review human correlational and experimental evidence suggesting that testosterone fluctuates rapidly in response to competition and mate-seeking cues, and that such acute changes may serve to modulate ongoing and/or future social behaviours (e.g., risk-taking, competitiveness, mate-seeking, and aggression). Some methodological details, which limit interpretation of some of this human work, are also discussed. We conclude with a new integrative model of testosterone secretion and behaviour, the Fitness Model of Testosterone Dynamics. Although we focus primarily on human aggression in this review, but we also highlight research on risk-taking, competitiveness, and mate-seeking behaviour.
... According to S/P theory, sexuality can be constituted by nurturance and/or eroticism (an aspect of "competition," a category which can also include power; see van Anders, 2013), but these are linked to testosterone in opposite ways. Eroticism, which could be defined as aspects of sexuality tied to bodily pleasure (van Anders, 2015), is positively linked to testosterone, whereas nurturance, defined as feelings of warm loving closeness (van Anders, 2015; van Anders et al., 2011), is negatively linked to testosterone (van Anders et al., 2011). Like sexuality in general, sexual desire itself could reflect a combination of nurturance and eroticism in differing proportions. ...
... According to S/P theory, sexuality can be constituted by nurturance and/or eroticism (an aspect of "competition," a category which can also include power; see van Anders, 2013), but these are linked to testosterone in opposite ways. Eroticism, which could be defined as aspects of sexuality tied to bodily pleasure (van Anders, 2015), is positively linked to testosterone, whereas nurturance, defined as feelings of warm loving closeness (van Anders, 2015; van Anders et al., 2011), is negatively linked to testosterone (van Anders et al., 2011). Like sexuality in general, sexual desire itself could reflect a combination of nurturance and eroticism in differing proportions. ...
... Research has repeatedly demonstrated (at least) two different forms of desire along other axes that are only moderately related: solitary desire, the desire to engage in sexual activity alone (e.g., with masturbation), and partnered desire, the desire to engage in sexual activity with another person. Solitary and partnered desire are correlated with each other at only moderate levels and may be associated with testosterone in different ways (van Anders, 2012; van Anders & Dunn, 2009; van Anders et al., 2011;van Anders, Hamilton, & Watson, 2007a, b; van Anders & Hampson, 2005). See Table 1 in van Anders (2012) for a review of studies exploring associations, with effect sizes, between sexual desire and T in healthy women and men. ...
Article
Full-text available
Sexual desire and testosterone are widely assumed to be directly and positively linked to each other despite the lack of supporting empirical evidence. The literature that does exist is mixed, which may result from a conflation of solitary and dyadic desire, and the exclusion of contextual variables, like stress, known to be relevant. Here, we use the Steroid/Peptide Theory of Social Bonds as a framework for examining how testosterone, solitary and partnered desire, and stress are linked over time. To do so, we collected saliva samples (for testosterone and cortisol) and measured desire as well as other variables via questionnaires over nine monthly sessions in 78 women and 79 men. Linear mixed models showed that testosterone negatively predicted partnered desire in women but not men. Stress moderated associations between testosterone and solitary desire in both women and men, but differently: At lower levels of stress, higher average testosterone corresponded to higher average solitary desire for men, but lower solitary desire on average for women. Similarly, for partnered desire, higher perceived stress predicted lower desire for women, but higher desire for men. We conclude by discussing the ways that these results both counter presumptions about testosterone and desire but fit with the existing literature and theory, and highlight the empirical importance of stress and gender norms.
... Perinatal changes in sexuality are thought to reflect an evolutionarily adaptive trade-off between parenting and mating: A diminished sex drive is adaptive insofar as it allows parents to prioritize parental investment, while temporarily putting future reproductive effort on hold (Gray, 2013). Physiologically, expectant parents also show changes in hormones, including testosterone, a steroid hormone associated with aggression and dominance (at higher levels) as well as caregiving and nurturance (at lower levels) (van Anders et al., 2011). Specifically, expectant mothers show large prenatal increases in testosterone, which return to prepregnancy levels postpartum (Edelstein et al., 2015;Fleming et al., 1997); expectant fathers show prenatal declines in testosterone, which rebound somewhat within the first postpartum year (Edelstein et al., 2015;Rosenbaum et al., 2018). ...
... Further, more recent research suggests that the relation between testosterone and sexual desire may depend on the type of sexual desire and participants' biological sex. Contemporary theories, based primarily on studies of college-aged and young adult participants, suggest that human sexuality includes both erotic and nurturant components (van Anders et al., 2011): Motivation for solitary erotic experiences, such as masturbation, which are arguably more erotic than nurturant, is thought to be facilitated by higher testosterone. Motivation for dyadic or paired sexual experiences, however, which tend to be more nurturant or intimacy-building, is thought to be facilitated by lower testosterone (van Anders, 2013). ...
... Prior research with clinical samples hints at a positive correlation between testosterone and sexual desire; however, the generalizability of findings from clinical to non-clinical populations has been questioned ( van Anders, 2012). Moreover, there are reasons to expect that associations may differ for solitary versus dyadic sexual desire (van Anders and Dunn, 2009;van Anders et al., 2011). Because both women and men exhibit changes in testosterone and sexual desire during the transition to parenthood (Berg and Wynne-Edwards, 2001;Schock et al., 2016), we sought to reexamine associations between testosterone and different kinds of sexual desire in this sample. ...
Article
During the transition to parenthood (TTP), both women and men report declines in sexual desire, which are thought to reflect an evolutionarily adaptive focus on parenting over mating. New parents also show changes in testosterone, a steroid hormone implicated in both parenting and mating, suggesting that changes in sexual desire may be associated with changes in testosterone. To test these associations, we followed a sample of heterosexual couples expecting their first child across the prenatal period. We examined prenatal changes in testosterone and two forms of sexual desire (solitary, dyadic). Expectant mothers showed prenatal increases in testosterone, and women's higher testosterone was associated with lower dyadic desire. Expectant fathers showed prenatal decreases in testosterone, and declines in men's testosterone were associated with lower dyadic desire. Testosterone was unrelated to men's or women's solitary desire. Our findings provide support for the idea that prenatal changes in testosterone contribute to an evolutionarily adaptive focus on parenting over mating during the TTP.
... According to the Steroid/Peptide Theory of Social Bonds, parenting involves both competition and nurturance (van Anders et al., 2011;van Anders, 2013). Nurturance involves paternal warmth and loving contact with offspring, while the competition aspect refers to resource acquisition, provisioning for, and protection of, offspring. ...
... Nurturance involves paternal warmth and loving contact with offspring, while the competition aspect refers to resource acquisition, provisioning for, and protection of, offspring. Thus, it has been hypothesized that situations related to parenting that trigger competition would be associated with spikes in testosterone, while situations related to parenting that trigger nurturant behavior would be associated with testosterone decrease (van Anders et al., 2011). Recent empirical evidence among humans seems to support these predictions . ...
... For example, in the contexts of intrasexual competition, women respond with testosterone increase when confronting members of the same sex (Bateup et al., 2002), and, similar to men, this response is moderated by situational (i.e., "winner-loser effect", Oliveira et al., 2009;Jimenez et al., 2012;Denson et al., 2012;Costa and Salvador, 2012;see Geniole et al., 2017a, for meta-analytic estimates for the winner-loser effect in women), motivational (Oliveira et al., 2013;Zilioli et al., 2014b), and physiological factors (Denson et al., 2012). Further, at least one study showed testosterone increments among women interacting with a man (Murcia et al., 2009), while two other studies showed a similar response among women exposed to men's faces (Zilioli et al., 2014a) as well as a short video depicting an attractive man (Lòpez et al., 2009; see also Goldey and van Anders, 2011). Among women, testosterone changes in response to competition positively correlate with prosocial attitudes (Casto and Edwards, 2015), in agreement with testosterone administration studies (Eisenegger et al., 2009;van Honk et al., 2012). ...
Article
Rapid testosterone fluctuations in response to social stimuli are observed across a wide range of species, and the highly conserved nature of these fluctuations suggests an adaptive function. This paper reviews the current literature on testosterone reactivity, primarily in human males, and illustrates how life-history theory provides an adequate theoretical framework to interpret findings. The review is structured around supporting evidence suggesting that situations implicated in mating effort either directly (e.g., interactions with a mate) or indirectly (e.g., intrasexual competition) are generally associated with a brief elevation of testosterone, while situations implicated in parenting effort (e.g., nurturant interactions with offspring) are generally associated with a decline in testosterone. Further, we discuss how these fluctuations in testosterone have been linked to future behaviors, and how situational, motivational, and physiological variables moderate the interplay between social stimuli, testosterone reactivity, and behavior. Supporting the notion that testosterone can play a causal role in mod- ulating behavior in response to social stimuli, we also summarize recent single administration studies examining the effects of testosterone on physiology, neurobiology, and behavior. A conceptual model provides links be- tween supported findings, and hypothesized pathways requiring future testing.
... Additionally, sexual thoughts have been shown to increase T, though only for women not using hormonal contraceptives, whereas sexual thoughts decreased T in women using hormonal contraceptives (Goldey & van Anders, 2011). Through all of these findings, it is apparent that the association between androgens and sexuality is a complex one, with myriad factors influencing it. ...
... In particular, quality of relationship may best predict the development of disorders related to desire (Stuart, Hammond, & Pett, 1987). Others have credited cognitive factors, particularly thoughts during sexual activity, as most connected to sexual desire (Brotto et al., 2011;Carvalho & Nobre, 2010b;Goldey & van Anders, 2011). High self-reported stress in daily life has been associated with lower levels of sexual desire, activity, and satisfaction as well (Bodenmann, Atkins, Schar, & Poffet, 2010). ...
... Similarly, the steroid/peptide theory of social bonds postulates the need for distinction of a sexual and a nurturant intimacy in order to resolve the paradox in which sexual activity is linked to both high T and pair bond facilitation in intimacy, though paradoxically, T inhibits pair bonds (van Anders et al., 2011). Likewise, the theory suggests distinguishing between antagonistic aggression and protective aggression in order to resolve the paradox that intimacy and aggression are mutually exclusive despite the paradoxical presence of peptides influencing both intimacy and aggression (van Anders et al., 2011). ...
Thesis
http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/98871/1/burkesha.pdf
... Roney et al. (2007) reported increased testosterone and cortisol among men after the mere presence of a young female confederate. Among women, imagining a sexual encounter induces an increase in testosterone, but not cortisol (Goldey and van Anders, 2011). In one of the few testosterone studies that considered cycle phase, researchers found that in response to video footage of an attractive man, both testosterone and cortisol increased in women while at low fertility (López et al., 2009). ...
... Carré and Olmstead, 2015). However, women's testosterone can also increase in response to sexual stimuli (Goldey and van Anders, 2011). While it is possible that rating the attractiveness of other women's voices produced an increase in testosterone due to sexual attraction, we feel this is unlikely in our sample. ...
Article
Both men and women find female voices more attractive at higher fertility times in the menstrual cycle, suggesting the voice is a cue to fertility and/or hormonal status. Preference for fertile females' voices provides males with an obvious reproduction advantage, however the advantage for female listeners is less clear. One possibility is that attention to the fertility status of potential rivals may enable women to enhance their own reproductive strategies through intrasexual competition. If so, the response to having high fertility voices should include hormonal changes that promote competitive behavior. Furthermore, attention and response to such cues should vary as a function of the observer's own fertility, which influences her ability to compete for mates. The current study monitored variation in cortisol and testosterone levels in response to evaluating the attractiveness of voices of other women. All 33 participants completed this task once during ovulation then again during the luteal phase. The voice stimuli were recorded from naturally cycling women at both high and low fertility, and from women using hormonal birth control. We found that listeners rated high fertility voices as more attractive compared to low fertility, with the effect being stronger when listeners were ovulating. Testosterone was elevated following voice ratings suggesting threat detection or the anticipation of competition, but no stress response was found.
... T increases as a result of orgasm (Exton et al., 1999) and partnered sexual behavior (van Anders et al., 2007), as may E 2 ( van Anders et al., 2009). Studies in which women were exposed to videotaped courtship interactions (Lopez et al., 2009), pictures of opposite-sex faces (Zilioli et al., 2014), and studies in which women were instructed to imagine a sexual social interaction (Goldey and van Anders, 2011) have reported significant increases in T. Interestingly, several studies in which participants were exposed to visual sexual stimuli (VSS) or audiovisual sexual stimuli (AVSS) have reported no increases in T (Goldey and van Anders, 2016;Hamilton et al., 2008;Heiman et al., 1991;van Anders et al., 2009), while others have shown that the magnitude and direction of T and E 2 changes may differ substantially among women (Garcia et al., 2015). Research on the factors modulating hormonal responses to mating-related and sexual stimuli is sparse, and no studies have systematically examined the effects of menstrual cycle phase on such responses. ...
... Hormone changes could then be interpreted as functional responses to what is physiologically perceived as actual sexual behavior, rather than to AVSS alone. This is unlikely to fully account for the observed results, as prior studies without vaginal probes have observed hormonal changes when participants were told to imagine sexual scenarios (Goldey and van Anders, 2011). Nonetheless, the lack of a non-probe control group should be considered when evaluating our findings. ...
Article
A robust body of research has demonstrated shifts in women's sexual desire and arousal across the menstrual cycle, with heightened desire and arousal coincident with heightened probability of conception (POC), and it is likely that ovarian hormones modulate these shifts. However, studies in which women are exposed to audiovisual sexual stimuli (AVSS) at high POC (mid-follicular) and low POC (luteal) phases have failed to detect significant differences in genital or subjective arousal patterns based on menstrual cycle phase. Here, we tested whether hormonal responsivity to AVSS differs as a function of cycle phase at testing, and whether phase during which participants were first exposed to AVSS influences hormonal responsivity in subsequent test sessions. Twenty-two naturally cycling heterosexual women were exposed to AVSS during the follicular and luteal phases, with phase at first test session counterbalanced across participants. Salivary samples were collected before and after AVSS exposure. Estradiol increased significantly during both follicular and luteal phase sessions, and increases were higher during the follicular phase. Testosterone (T) increased significantly only during the follicular phase session, while progesterone (P) did not change significantly during either cycle phase. Session order and current cycle phase interacted to predict P and T responses, such that P and T increased during the follicular phase in women who were first tested during the luteal phase. These data suggest that menstrual cycle phase influences hormonal responsivity to AVSS, and contribute to a growing body of clinical and empirical literature on the neuroendocrine modulators of women's sexuality.
... Some of these changes may be similar to those occurring in men, whereas others are likely to be different. For example, there is evidence that sexual thoughts, in the absence of any external sexual stimuli, can increase testosterone in women (Goldey & van Anders 2011). Increased testosterone in women, in turn, can influence risk taking and decision making (e.g., Bos et al. 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
We adopt Tinbergen's (1963) “four questions” approach to strengthen the criticism by Maestripieri et al. of the non-evolutionary accounts of favouritism toward attractive individuals, by showing which levels of explanation are lacking in these accounts. We also use this approach to propose ways in which the evolutionary account may be extended and strengthened.
... Some of these changes may be similar to those occurring in men, whereas others are likely to be different. For example, there is evidence that sexual thoughts, in the absence of any external sexual stimuli, can increase testosterone in women (Goldey & van Anders 2011). Increased testosterone in women, in turn, can influence risk taking and decision making (e.g., Bos et al. 2012). ...
Article
Mating motives lead decision makers to favor attractive people, but this favoritism is not sufficient to create a beauty premium in competitive settings. Further, economic approaches to discrimination, when correctly characterized, could neatly accommodate the experimental and field evidence of a beauty premium. Connecting labor economics and evolutionary psychology is laudable, but mating motives do not explain the beauty premium.
... Most sexual psychophysiology methods assess the initial phases of genital vasocongestion, autonomic activity, and affective responses, though measurement of somatic, cognitive, and experiential aspects of orgasm are becoming more available (e.g., Patterson et al., 2013). The hormonal complement to sexual response is also becoming more routinely assessed as researchers recognize the dynamic and responsive nature of androgens, such as testosterone, to sexual stimuli (Goldey & van Anders, 2011). ...
Article
The past three decades have seen an unprecedented increase in empirical research on women?s sexual response. In this review, we critically examine current controversies and assumptions associated with the nature of women?s sexual arousal and desire. We focus specifically on four assumptions: (1) the assumption that women should be aroused by stimuli that align with their stated preferences, (2) the assumption that women?s physiological and self-reported arousal should perfectly align, (3) the assumption that sexual desire precedes sexual arousal, and (4) the assumption that a single pharmaceutical compound will adequately restore women?s sexual response to her level of satisfaction. Engaging a gendered psychological framework for conceptualizing women?s sexuality, we emphasize the need for models of women?s sexual response to be sensitive to the sexed biological processes and gendered psychosocial factors that contribute to a woman?s unique sexual experience.
... In both sexes, T was shown to increase attention to sexual cues (Alexander et al. 1997;Sherwin 1991, 1993;Poels et al. 2013;van der Made et al. 2009), which argues for a role of T in sexual motivation. In women, T was also shown to be increased after erotic imagery Goldey and van Anders 2011;López et al. 2009) and before intercourse (Dabbs Jr and Mohamed 1992; van Anders et al. 2007), further arguing for a role of T in female sexual motivation. However, it has been proposed that, in women with low desire attributed to psychological inhibitions, T does not increase sexual desire, and even diminishes implicit attention to sexual cues (Poels et al. 2013;van der Made et al. 2009). ...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives Low sexual desire is a common complaint among women in the reproductive years. There is controversy regarding the relationship between testosterone (T) and female desire, but there is also lack of research on moderators. Lack of awareness of effects of T on emotions and bodily sensations might interfere with the subjective experience of desire. Moreover, T appears to be more important for searching and competing for partners than for long-term pair bonding. Therefore, we examined if interoception, alexithymia, maladaptive psychological defenses, and relationship status, moderated the relationship between salivary T and female desire. Methods One hundred sixty eight Portuguese women of reproductive age completed the desire dimension of the Female Sexual Function Index, the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), and the Defense Style Questionnaire (DSQ-40). Interoception was determined by a heartbeat detection task. Participants reported if they had a regular sexual partner. Luminescence immunoassays were used to determine salivary T. Results Three multiple regressions models revealed that, among unpartnered women, higher desire was predicted by the combinations of 1) higher T and lesser alexithymia, 2) higher T and less use of maladaptive defenses, 3) higher T and greater interoception. For partnered women, neither T nor the interactions of T with indices of emotional and bodily awareness predicted desire. Conclusions These findings provide preliminary evidence that T is more important for the desire of unpartnered women, and that lack of conscious awareness of emotions and bodily sensations interferes with the effects of T on the subjective experience of desire.
... However, there is also evidence of comparable responses to a social stressor in HC users and non-users (Kirschbaum et al., 1995a;Herbison et al., 2016;Shalev et al., 2009). Studies using mild cognitive stressors also failed to show a difference between the two groups (McCormick and Teillon, 2001;Feeney et al., 2012;Goldey and van Anders, 2011;Seeman et al., 2001;Schoofs et al., 2008). These inconsistencies might be accounted for by menstrual cycle phase: HC users showed attenuated sCort stress responses when being compared to women in their luteal phase (Kirschbaum et al., 1999;Rohleder et al., 2003) while there was no difference to women in their follicular phase (Kirschbaum et al., 1999;Hidalgo et al., 2012). ...
Article
Salivary cortisol (sCort) and salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) constitute proxy measures of the two major stress response systems, i.e. the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the autonomic nervous system, respectively. Potentially confounding determinants of sCort and sAA may limit a reliable concurrent measurement of both biomarkers, if not adequately considered. We reviewed the most important determinants of sCort and sAA and provide recommendations for handling these potential confounders. We focused on a selection of potential confounders, resulting in an in-depth consideration of age, sex steroid-related factors, somatic health, acute medication, smoking, consumption of food and drinks, alcohol consumption, physical activity/fitness, and sleep. Our review further highlights the importance of the consideration of potential confounders for a reliable and valid simultaneous measurement of sCort and sAA. We thus recommend the control for potential confounders in the study design or in the data analysis.
... Both, hormone measures and the interpretation of findings obtained from the measures, remain controversial. 8 Testosterone measures, for example, have been found to have low to moderate reliability (Dabbs, 1990), and testosterone levels can be influenced by psychological (e.g., Goldey & van Anders, 2011), environmental, and pharmacological events. ...
Chapter
Constructs related to race, sex/gender, and other social categories are inevitably linked to social discrimination, inequality, and injustice. As one prominent example, the division of humans into “females” (F) and “males” (M) or “women” and “men” and the assumption that these labels indicate inherent within-group homogeneity and between-group differences for physiological and psychological variables have long dominated many cultural and scientific practices. In recent years, numerous authors and activists have argued that binary labels fail to reflect the overlaps and entanglements of sex and gender and the interdependency of sex/gender with other social categories. Nevertheless, many psychological researchers continue to report binary sex/gender – using F and M – without specifying how they define and measure these categories. In the present chapter, we argue that implicitly construing and registering study participants as belonging to two exclusive groups, F and M, produces empirical results that are difficult to interpret and lack validity. We present methodological, conceptual, and empirical arguments, which suggest that sex/gender involves multiple, non-binary aspects. We underscore the need for alternatives to binary sex/gender assessment and introduce early ideas that researchers can use to develop non- or less binary, context-driven, more transparent assessment strategies. Finally, we illustrate the applicability of these strategies using an example from a neurolinguistic research project, which uses a multidimensional concept of sex/gender. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0000059-009
... Some of these changes may be similar to those occurring in men, whereas others are likely to be different. For example, there is evidence that sexual thoughts, in the absence of any external sexual stimuli, can increase testosterone in women (Goldey & van Anders 2011). Increased testosterone in women, in turn, can influence risk taking and decision making (e.g., Bos et al. 2012). ...
Article
Maestripieri et al. pit evolutionary psychology against social psychological and economic perspectives in a winner-take-all empirical battle. In doing so, they risk positioning evolutionary psychology as an antagonistic subdisciplinary enterprise. We worry that such a framing may exacerbate tensions between “competing” scientific perspectives and limit evolutionary psychology's potential to serve as a unifying core theory.
... Some of these changes may be similar to those occurring in men, whereas others are likely to be different. For example, there is evidence that sexual thoughts, in the absence of any external sexual stimuli, can increase testosterone in women (Goldey & van Anders 2011). Increased testosterone in women, in turn, can influence risk taking and decision making (e.g., Bos et al. 2012). ...
Article
According to cognitive averaging theory, preferences for attractive faces result from their similarity to facial prototypes, the categorical central tendencies of a population of faces. Prototypical faces are processed more fluently, resulting in increased positive affect in the viewer.
... Another possibility is that for men a mediation model that takes into account a lack of sexual thoughts may better explain the association of dysfunctional sexual beliefs with sexual functioning. These are thoughts that are usually linked to higher levels of sexual functioning, namely arousal (Goldey & van Anders, 2011), and it may be the case that rigid dysfunctional beliefs may be related to the suppression of sexual thoughts in men rather than to cognitive distraction. Finally, another possibility is that dysfunctional beliefs about sexual functioning predict cognitive distraction during sexual activity among sexually dysfunctional men but not among highly functional men, like those included in our sample. ...
Article
Full-text available
Dysfunctional sexual beliefs are vulnerability factors for sexual dysfunction. This cross-sectional study aimed to test the mediating role of cognitive distraction on the relationship between dysfunctional sexual beliefs about sexual functioning shared by men and women and sexual function. We used a sample of 421 cisgender heterosexual participants involved in a monogamous relationship. The hypothesized mediation model was tested using a bootstrapped cross product of coefficients approach. Results showed a significant negative, indirect effect between dysfunctional sexual beliefs and women's sexual function through cognitive distraction. The discussion of this study highlights the importance of cognitive factors in sexual functioning.
... Some of these changes may be similar to those occurring in men, whereas others are likely to be different. For example, there is evidence that sexual thoughts, in the absence of any external sexual stimuli, can increase testosterone in women (Goldey & van Anders 2011). Increased testosterone in women, in turn, can influence risk taking and decision making (e.g., Bos et al. 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
An account of the “beauty premium” based only on mating motivations overlooks adaptationist models of social valuation that have broader explanatory power. We suggest a broader approach based on evolved preferences for attractive partners in multiple cooperative domains (not just mating), which accounts for many observations of attractiveness-based preferential treatment more comfortably than does the target article's mating-specific account.
... Gender differences in trait desire have beenwidelyreported, whereasanemerging literaturesuggeststhat state sexual desire may be similar in magnitude for women and men (see Dawson & Chivers, 2014a). For example, Goldey and van Anders (2011) found no significant gender differences in the magnitude of self-reported solitary or partnered sexual desire in response to three modalities of preferred sexual stimuli (i.e., imagined sexual situation, sexual story, and sexual fantasy). ...
Article
Full-text available
Category-specific sexual response describes a pattern wherein the individual shows significantly greater responses to preferred versus nonpreferred categories of sexual stimuli; this pattern is described as gender specific for sexual orientation to gender, or gender nonspecific if lacking response differentiation by gender cues. Research on the gender specificity of women's sexual response has consistently produced sexual orientation effects, such that androphilic women (sexually attracted to adult males) typically show gender-nonspecific patterns of genital response and gynephilic women (sexually attracted to adult females) show more gender-specific responses. As research on the category specificity of sexual response has grown, this pattern has also been observed for other measures of sexual response. In this review, I use the Incentive Motivation and Information Processing Models as complementary frameworks to organize the empirical literature examining the gender specificity of women's sexual response at each stage of sexual stimulus processing and response. Collectively, these data disconfirm models of sexual orientation that equate androphilic women's sexual attractions with their sexual responses to sexual stimuli. I then discuss 10 hypotheses that might explain variability in the specificity of sexual response among androphilic and gynephilic women, and conclude with recommendations for future research on the (non)specificity of sexual response.
... Novel to this study, we found that T was associated with lower IgA among highly sexually active women. Sexual activity is associated with acute, transitory elevations in T in women (Morris et al., 1987;Tuiten et al., 2000) although the direction of causality is unclear (Goldey and van Anders, 2011;van Anders, 2012). T may be either a mediator of the association between sexual activity and IgA, or the two variables may be co-related to a third factor (e.g., sexual desire, frequency of non-sexual intimate touch (van Anders et al., 2007). ...
Article
Although testosterone (T) has been characterized as universally immunosuppressive across species and sexes, recent ecoimmunology research suggests that T's immunomodulatory effects (enhancing/suppressing) depend on the organism's reproductive context. Very little is known about the immune effects of T in healthy females, and even less about how reproductive effort modulates the immune effects of T in humans. We investigated how the interaction between endogenous T and sexual activity predicted menstrual cycle-related changes in several measures of immunity: inflammation (indexed by interleukin-6, IL-6), adaptive immunity (indexed by immunoglobulin A, IgA), and functional immunity (indexed by bactericidal assay). Thirty-two healthy women (sexually abstinent, N=17; sexually active with one male partner, N= 15) provided saliva samples at four points in the menstrual cycle: menses, follicular, ovulation, and luteal phases. Among sexually abstinent women, T was positively associated with IL-6 across the cycle; for sexually active women, however, T was positively associated with IL-6 in the luteal phase only, and negatively associated with IL-6 at ovulation. High T predicted higher IgA among women who reported infrequent intercourse, but lower IgA among women who reported very frequent intercourse. Finally, across groups, T was positively associated with greater bacterial killing at menses, but negatively associated in the luteal phase. Overall, rather than being universally immunosuppressive, T appeared to signal immunomodulation relevant to reproduction (e.g., lowering inflammation at ovulation, potentially preventing immune interference with conception). Our findings support the hypothesis that the immunomodulatory effects of endogenous T in healthy females depend on sexual and reproductive context.
... Saliva concentration of testosterone was unaffected by an 8 min pornographic movie, and there was no correlation between testosterone concentration and magnitude of the vaginal response (van Anders et al., 2009). Lack of effect of sexually relevant stimuli in women was found in other studies (Goldey and van Anders, 2016;Hamilton et al., 2008a), even when serum testosterone was assayed (Heiman et al., 1991) or when the stimulus was mental representation of sexual activity (Goldey and van Anders, 2011). A more recent study found enhanced salivary testosterone after exposure to a pornographic movie segment, the effect being larger in women tested in the follicular phase (Shirazi et al., 2018). ...
Article
Sexual incentive stimuli activate sexual motivation and heighten the level of general arousal. The sexual motive may induce the individual to approach the incentive, and eventually to initiate sexual acts. Both approach and the ensuing copulatory interaction further enhance general arousal. We present data from rodents and humans in support of these assertions. We then suggest that orgasm is experienced when the combined level of excitation surpasses a threshold. In order to analyze the neurobiological bases of sexual motivation, we employ the concept of a central motive state. We then discuss the mechanisms involved in the long- and short-term control of that state as well as those mediating the momentaneous actions of sexual incentive stimuli. This leads to an analysis of the neurobiology behind the interindividual differences in responsivity of the sexual central motive state. Knowledge is still fragmentary, and many contradictory observations have been made. Nevertheless, we conclude that the basic mechanisms of sexual motivation and the role of general arousal are similar in rodents and humans.
... Consistent with this study it is a possibility that women in our current study have sexual desire equal of their male counterparts due to the sense of freedom from pregnancy and thus both male and female partners had more or less similar experience of sexual desires. Moreover, women tend to fantasize more about sexual activities and researches show that with more sexual thoughts and fantasy the amount of testosterone increases among women which consequently strengthen sexual desires among women [19]. In addition, both males and females need a sufficient amount of testosterone which is required biologically for sexual desires. ...
Article
Full-text available
Men and women are very different in nature and preferences of their sexual behavior. Sex drive refers to the strength of sexual impulse in one's body and significantly impact marital satisfaction/relationship. The main purpose of conducting present study was to identify differences in strength of sexual desire between men and women and what impacts it has on marital satisfaction in Pakistani context. This study took place in the twin cities of Pakistan (Rawalpindi & Islamabad). Data was collected from married individuals using convenient sampling technique. The participants reported on demographic sheet, Sexual Desire Inventory-2 (Spector, Carey & Steinberg, 1996) for assessing sexual desires and ENRICH Marital Satisfaction Scale (Flowers & Olsen, 1993) for evaluating marital satisfaction among married couples after signing formal consent from each participant. Present study is cross-sectional, descriptive and quantitative in nature, was administered on a sample of 200 married individuals ranging between 22 to 46 years age. To test the hypotheses, independent samples t-test, ANOVA and Pearson's bivariate correlation coefficient was used from SPSS version 21. It was assumed that males will score higher on sexual desire than females. The results show no significant difference between the level of sexual desire between male and females. The second hypothesis assumed that sexual desire and marital satisfaction are positively correlated. The results confirmed this assumption as there was a small positive correlation between sexual desire and marital satisfaction. Current research also tested whether level of education is associated with sexual desire. However, results indicate that education level does not predict sexual desire.
... Sexual behavior produces a variety of effects on brain and behavior, including altered sex hormone release (Exton et al., 1999;Gleason et al., 2009;Goldey & van Anders, 2011;Shulman & Spritzer, 2014;van Anders et al., 2007van Anders et al., , 2009; changes in neurogenesis in the hippocampus (Glasper & Gould, 2013;Leuner et al., 2010) and olfactory bulb (Arzate et al., 2013;Corona et al., 2011Corona et al., , 2016Portillo et al., 2012;Unda et al., 2016); changes in synaptic spine density in the medial prefrontal cortex (Glasper et al., 2015;Meisel & Mullins, 2006), hippocampus (Glasper et al., 2015;Leuner et al., 2010), NAcc (Staffend et al., 2014), and vlVMH (Flanagan-Cato et al., 2006); changes in the activation of intracellular signaling pathways in the hippocampus (Kim et al., 2013), MPOA (Meerts et al., 2016), VTA (Balfour et al., 2004), and NAcc (Bradley et al., 2004;Meisel & Mullins, 2006); changes in gene expression in the NAcc (Balfour et al., 2004;Bradley et al., 2005;Bradley & Meisel, 2001;Lopez & Ettenberg, 2002), VTA (Balfour et al., 2004), MPOA , cerebellum (Paredes-Ramos et al., 2011), andvlVMH (Flanagan-Cato et al., 2006); and changes in electrical activity in the cerebellum (Garcia-Martinez et al., 2010). Furthermore, sexual experience leads to behavioral changes, both related to sexual behavior (Meisel & Mullins, 2006;Woodson, 2002), and not directly related to it, such as changes in learning and memory performance (Glasper & Gould, 2013;Kim et al., 2013;Maunder et al., 2017) (Fig. 1). ...
Article
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Although sex drive is present in many animal species, sexual behavior is not static and, like many other behaviors, can be modified by experience. This modification relies on synaptic plasticity, a sophisticated mechanism through which neurons change how they process a given stimulus, and the neurophysiological basis of learning. This review addresses the main plastic effects of steroid sex hormones in the central nervous system (CNS) and the effects of sexual experience on the CNS, including effects on neurogenesis, intracellular signaling, gene expression, and changes in dendritic spines, as well as behavioral changes.
... Importantly, these tests can be modeled through moderation, irrespective of the aforementioned exclusionary reasons (Josephs 2009). Although contraceptive use is most often implicated as a confounder in the study of sex hormones (Goldey and van Anders 2011), it is also possible that contraceptive use might influence circulating levels of cortisol, affecting personalitycortisol associations. Some studies find that contraceptives suppress cortisol levels (Meulenberg et al. 1987); other studies find no suppression (Nickelsen et al. 1989). ...
Article
Full-text available
Objective Hormones are often conceptualized as biological markers of individual differences and have been associated with a variety of behavioral indicators and characteristics, such as mating behavior or acquiring and maintaining dominance. However, before researchers create strong theoretical models for how hormones modulate individual and social behavior, information on how hormones are associated with dominant models of personality is needed. Although there have been some studies attempting to quantify the associations between personality traits, testosterone, and cortisol, there are many inconsistencies across these studies.Methods In this registered report, we examined associations between testosterone, cortisol, and Big Five personality traits. We aggregated 25 separate samples to yield a single sample of 3964 (50.3% women; 27.7% of women were on hormonal contraceptives). Participants completed measures of personality and provided saliva samples for testosterone and cortisol assays.ResultsThe results from multi-level models and meta-analyses revealed mostly weak, non-significant associations between testosterone or cortisol and personality traits. The few significant effects were still very small in magnitude (e.g., testosterone and conscientiousness: r = −0.05). A series of moderation tests revealed that hormone-personality associations were mostly similar in men and women, those using hormonal contraceptives or not, and regardless of the interaction between testosterone and cortisol (i.e., a variant of the dual-hormone hypothesis).Conclusions Altogether, we did not detect many robust associations between Big Five personality traits and testosterone or cortisol. The findings are discussed in the context of biological models of personality and the utility of examining heterogeneity in hormone-personality associations.
... The suggestion in our data of a stronger link with solitary than partnered sexual activity among women accords with evidence reported elsewhere; albeit from either laboratory studies and/or those utilizing smaller convenience samples (Randolph et al., 2015;van Anders, 2012). Interpretation of these findings has drawn on the bi-directionality of the association between T and sexuality (Goldey & van Anders, 2011) and on the different meanings and motivations attached to solitary and partnered sex. For example, qualitative research among women points to solitary sexuality as primarily erotic and partnered sexuality as nurturant (Goldey et al., 2016). ...
Article
Using data from the third British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3) we examined associations between salivary testosterone (Sal-T) and sexual function and behavior. Single morning saliva samples were self-collected from a subsample of participants aged 18-74 years and analyzed using mass spectrometry. 1,599 men and 2,123 women were included in the analysis (40.6% of those invited to provide a sample). We adjusted for confounders in a stepwise manner: in model 1 we adjusted for age only; model 2 for age, season and relationship status, and model 3 we added BMI and self-reported health. In the fully adjusted models, among men, Sal-T was positively associated with both partnered sex (vaginal sex and concurrent partners) and masturbation. Among women, Sal-T was positively associated with masturbation, the only association with partnered sex was with ever experience of same-sex sex. We found no clear association between Sal-T and sexual function. Our study contributes toward addressing the sparsity of data outside the laboratory on the differences between men and women in the relationship between T and sexual function and behavior. To our knowledge, this is the first population study, among men and women, using a mass spectrometry Sal-T assay to do so.
... Men showed higher desire than women, but masturbation frequency rather than T influenced this difference ( van Anders, 2012). Sexual contact and even sexual thoughts can increase T-level (Dabbs & Mohammed, 1992;Goldey & van Anders, 2011;van Anders et al., 2013). Cuddling can sometimes be experienced as sexual, which may lead to an increase in T, but cuddling can also be experienced and appraised as nurturing rather than sexual, and nurturant experiences can cause a decrease in T ( van Anders et al., 2013). ...
Article
Objective Sexual activity is a fundamental human function with short-term and long-term emotional, social, and physical benefits. Yet within healthcare, sexuality has been marginalized and many HCPs are unaware of its beneficial implications for immediate and long-term health. Methods To challenge this assumption we combined the data that already had been collected by the authors with an extensive search of articles on the various health benefits of sexual activity. The results of this process are displayed according to short-term, intermediate-term, and long-term benefits with some explanation about potential causal relationships. Results For the time being, it cannot yet be proved that “good sex promotes good health” since good health also favors good sex. Conclusions Despite lacking such convincing evidence, the article concludes with recommendations for the relevant professions. The balance of research supports that sexuality anyhow deserves greater attention among HCPs and that sexuality research needs better integration within health research.
... tures have an important role in determining sexual behavior; that is, how a woman interprets the sexual fields and how she can respond to them (7). As mentioned, interpersonal factors and growth experiences affect individuals' sexual behavior. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Individual factors that can lead to psychological disorders, including early maladaptive schemas, sexual self-esteem, and anxiety, and their impact on the female orgasmic disorder (FOD), has not yet been thoroughly examined. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to compare these factors in women with FOD to those without the condition. Methods: This descriptive research was causal-comparative or ex post facto study, and the statistical population was two groups of married women aged 18 to 40 years. Out of 152 women who participated, 66 cases had FOD, and 86 cases had no FOD according to the cut-off scores of the Female Sexual Function Index questionnaire and based on the DSM5 criteria. The Young Early Maladaptive Schema questionnaire (YEMSQ) (1995), Zeanah and Schwarz’s Sexual Self-Esteem Inventory for Women (SSEI-W) (1996), and the Beck Anxiety inventory (BAI) (1988) were filled out by all the participants. An independent t-test at a significance level of P < 0.05 was applied to analyze the data using SPSS 24. Results: The results indicated that the mean scores of women with FOD were significantly higher in all schema areas than the mean scores of women without FOD (P < 0.001), and the mean scores of women without FOD were significantly higher on the sexual self-esteem scale and all its sub-scales than those with FOD (P < 0.001). Also, the mean anxiety scores of women with FOD were significantly higher than the mean scores of women without FOD (P < 0.001). Conclusions: These results support the differences in individual psychological factors among women with FOD and those without and can be used for education, prevention, evaluation, and treatment of orgasmic disorders.
... Concerning the current study, engaging in the discussion work for an online class did not threaten survival; however, students can experience high levels of stress when working in an online course. Stress is a situational factor that can trigger the testosterone effect (Goldey & Van Anders, 2011). ...
... Importantly, these tests can be modeled through moderation, irrespective of the aforementioned exclusionary reasons (Josephs, 2009). Although contraceptive use is most often implicated as a confounder in the study of sex hormones (Goldey & van Anders, 2011), it is also possible that contraceptive use might influence circulating levels of cortisol, affecting personality-cortisol associations. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
**Objective**: Hormones are often conceptualized as biological markers of individual differences and have been associated with a variety of behavioral indicators and characteristics, such as mating behavior or acquiring and maintaining dominance. However, before researchers create strong theoretical models for how hormones modulate individual and social behavior, information on how hormones are associated with dominant models of personality are needed. Although there have been some studies attempting to quantify the associations between personality traits, testosterone, and cortisol, there are many inconsistencies across these studies. **Methods**: In this registered report, we examined associations between testosterone, cortisol, and Big Five personality traits. We aggregated 25 separate samples to yield a single sample of 3,964 (50.3% women; 27.7% of women were on hormonal contraceptives). Participants completed measures of personality and provided saliva samples for testosterone and cortisol assays.**Results**: The results from multi-level models and meta-analyses revealed mostly weak, non-significant associations between testosterone or cortisol and personality traits. The few significant effects were still very small in magnitude (e.g. testosterone and conscientiousness: r = -0.05). A series of moderation tests revealed that hormone-personality associations were mostly similar in men and women, those using hormonal contraceptives or not, and regardless of the interaction between testosterone and cortisol (i.e., a variant of the dual-hormone hypothesis). **Conclusions**: Altogether, we did not detect many robust associations between Big Five personality traits and testosterone or cortisol. The findings are discussed in the context of biological models of personality and the utility of examining heterogeneity in hormone-personality associations.
... There have been similarly inconsistent reports of the effects of testosterone on female sexual desire and arousal function: some studies have found significant positive associations [126][127][128], others negative [129,130], and others no association [131,132]. Of note, women who are regularly sexually active with a partner have lower endogenous testosterone than single (and sexually inactive) women [133,134]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose of Review To describe the current state of research on interactions between inflammation and female sexual function. Recent Findings Inflammation may interfere with female sexual desire and arousal via direct (neural) and indirect (endocrine, vascular, social/behavioral) pathways. There are significant sex differences in the effect of inflammation on sexual function, arising from different evolutionary selection pressures on the regulation of reproduction. A variety of inflammation-related conditions are associated with the risk of female sexual dysfunction, including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and chronic pain. Summary Clinical implications include the need for routine assessment for sexual dysfunction in patients with inflammation-related conditions, the potential for anti-inflammatory diets to improve sexual desire and arousal function, and consideration of chronic inflammation as moderator of sexual effects of hormonal treatments. Although the evidence points to a role for inflammation in the development and maintenance of female sexual dysfunction, the precise nature of these associations remains unclear.
... Moreover, the endocrinological changes that accompany the rise in fertility differ markedly from those associated with sexual arousal and sexual desire in women (Shirazi, Bossio, Puts, & Chivers, 2018;van Anders, Hamilton, Schmidt, & Watson, 2007;Vitzhum, 2009). For example, increased fertility is associated with elevated levels of progesterone and luteinizing hormone that can persist for days (Vitzhum, 2009), whereas sexual arousal is accompanied by short-term changes in hormones such as testosterone (Goldey & van Anders, 2011). Thus, it is unlikely that elevated fertility likelihood and sexual arousal produce a common olfactory output. ...
Article
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Research suggests that humans can communicate emotional states (e.g., fear, sadness) via chemosignals. However, thus far little is known about whether sexual arousal can also be conveyed through chemosignals and how these signals might influence the receiver. In three experiments, and a subsequent mini meta-analysis, support was found for the hypothesis that men can process the scent of sexually aroused women and that exposure to these sexual chemosignals affect the subsequent perceptions and sexual motivation of men. Specifically, Experiment 1 revealed that men evaluate the axillary sweat of sexually aroused women as more attractive, compared to the scent of the same women when not sexually aroused. In addition, Experiment 2 showed that exposure to sexual chemosignals increased the men’s sexual arousal. Experiment 3 found support for the thesis that exposure to sexual chemosignals would increase sexual motivation. As predicted, men devoted greater attention to and showed greater interest in mating with women who displayed sexual cues (e.g., scantily dressed, in seductive poses). By contrast, exposure to the sexual chemosignals did not alter males’ attention and mating interest toward women who displayed no sexual cues. It is discussed how sexual chemosignals may function as an additional channel in the communication of sexual interest and how contextual factors can influence the dynamics of human sexual communication.
... Another possibility is that for men a mediation model that takes into account a lack of sexual thoughts may better explain the association of dysfunctional sexual beliefs with sexual functioning. These are thoughts that are usually linked to higher levels of sexual functioning, namely arousal (Goldey & van Anders, 2011), and it may be the case that rigid dysfunctional beliefs may be related to the suppression of sexual thoughts in men rather than to cognitive distraction. Finally, another possibility is that dysfunctional beliefs about sexual functioning predict cognitive distraction during sexual activity among sexually dysfunctional men but not among highly functional men, like those included in our sample. ...
Article
Full-text available
This qualitative cross sectional study seeks to explore the perceptions of emerging adults with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus regarding the impact of this disease on their Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) using thematic analysis on the answers of 59 participants. Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia during sexual activity, the use of insulin pump and the interconnection between an individual and the interpersonal impact of this illness were identified as crucial. This sample perceives their clinical condition as influential in their SRH and highlights the role of romantic partners in promoting their health and well-being.
Chapter
Sexual activity has not only a wide range of emotional and social but also physical consequences.
Article
The view that humans comprise only two types of beings, women and men, a framework that is sometimes referred to as the “gender binary,” played a profound role in shaping the history of psychological science. In recent years, serious challenges to the gender binary have arisen from both academic research and social activism. This review describes 5 sets of empirical findings, spanning multiple disciplines, that fundamentally undermine the gender binary. These sources of evidence include neuroscience findings that refute sexual dimorphism of the human brain; behavioral neuroendocrinology findings that challenge the notion of genetically fixed, nonoverlapping, sexually dimorphic hormonal systems; psychological findings that highlight the similarities between men and women; psychological research on transgender and nonbinary individuals’ identities and experiences; and developmental research suggesting that the tendency to view gender/sex as a meaningful, binary category is culturally determined and malleable. Costs associated with reliance on the gender binary and recommendations for future research, as well as clinical practice, are outlined.
Chapter
Crime is a heterogeneous social phenomenon and does not merely reflect deviant behaviour that is incompatible with society’s laws. Criminality can be used as a lens through which greater insight into a society’s economic and moral values might be gleaned, but within the field of criminology, there seems to be a dearth of dedicated research into the relationship between gender and criminality. Indeed, gender-specific crimes tend to occur at higher rates within developing, low-, and middle-income countries, where one gender is committing or being victimized more so than another gender for specific crimes. Societal influences and cultural norms, as well as the role of the criminal justice system, undoubtably shape the ways in which women and men are able to be both the victims and the perpetrators of various criminal acts. By improving our understanding of this topic and by collecting further evidence of reliable predictors of criminality, research into the relationship between gender and crime will ideally contribute towards a society that may one day be described as ‘equal’.
Article
Orgasms have been promoted as symbols of sexual fulfillment for women, and have perhaps become the symbol of a woman’s healthy sex life. However, some research has suggested that this focus on women’s orgasms, though ostensibly for women, may actually serve men; but the mechanisms of this are unclear. In the present experiment, we hypothesized that women’s orgasms specifically function as a masculinity achievement for men. To test this, we randomly assigned 810 men (M age = 25.44, SD = 8.31) to read a vignette where they imagined that an attractive woman either did or did not orgasm during a sexual encounter with them. Participants then rated their sexual esteem and the extent to which they would feel masculine after experiencing the given situation. Our results showed that men felt more masculine and reported higher sexual esteem when they imagined that a woman orgasmed during sexual encounters with them, and that this effect was exacerbated for men with high masculine gender role stress. These results suggest that women’s orgasms do function—at least in part—as a masculinity achievement for men.
Chapter
This chapter details the varied causes and associated interventions for the widespread lack of sexual passion. First, it is important to define what the problem is, who is suffering from it, and how it intersects with other concerns outlined in this book. Although the chapter focuses on clients who used to have passionate sex and long for its return, the exact nature of their problem and what has caused and is maintaining their problem is quite varied. For low-passion couples, “therapy must be individualized—custom tailored to match the etiology and life situation of each case”. Developed by Jack Annon in 1974, yet still relevant today, PLISSIT describes a stepwise model of intervening with sexual concerns with the progressively more intensive intervention steps of Permission (P), Limited Information (LI), Specific Suggestions (SS), and Intensive Therapy (IT). The chapter also provides preliminary information on modality of treatment, and presents PLISSIT for Passion model.
Thesis
http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/91861/1/lritchie.pdf
Article
Assessing dominance is important for effective social interactions, and prior research suggests that testosterone is associated with men's dominance perceptions. The present study tested for a causal effect of exogenous tes-tosterone on men's sensitivity to vocal cues of other men's dominance, an important parameter in male-male competition across species. One hundred and thirty-nine Chinese men received a single dose (150 mg) of tes-tosterone or placebo gel in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, between-participant design. Participants reported their own dominance and judged other men's dominance from voices. Men's dominance sensitivity was significantly weaker in the testosterone group compared to those in the placebo group. Moreover, men's dominance sensitivity was negatively associated with their self-reported dominance in our Chinese sample, consistent with findings from Western populations. These results indicate that exogenous testosterone has a causal effect in decreasing men's dominance sensitivity, consistent with the Challenge Hypothesis, suggesting that the fluctuation of testosterone concentration mediates individuals' behaviors. Additionally, the present study could motivate further work on vocal assessment in the context of competition in humans and other species.
Chapter
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The brain, behavior, and neuroendocrine system have coevolved to support human group living. Recent developments in behavioral endocrinology over last several decades increasingly point to the powerful role of social experiences in influencing and being influenced by hormones. Here, we review the accumulated empirical developments that link two hormones—testosterone and cortisol—to social competition and affiliation. We suggest that testosterone and cortisol both influence and reflect the dynamics of human social behavior in domains of competition and affiliation, albeit in very different ways. The evidence supports the notion that testosterone may function as a competition hormone that calibrates psychological systems to current social standing and adaptively guide status-seeking efforts. As for cortisol, much evidence reveals that cortisol modulates affiliative behaviors in ways that appear to be adaptive; cortisol is elevated during times of social threat, social isolation, and loneliness, possibly to mobilize responses geared toward seeking coping and support, but is dampened when individuals gain social control and affiliative support. Still, more work is needed to unpack the complex interplay between neurobiology and human sociality. We end with a number of methodological recommendations on how using salivary bioscience methods may ultimately lead to a richer understanding of the complex reciprocal ties between biology and human social behavior.
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Sexual desire is typically measured as a unitary erotic phenomenon and is often assumed by biological and biomedical researchers, as well as the lay public, to be directly connected to physiological parameters like testosterone (T). In the present study, we empirically examined how conceptualizing sexual desire as multifaceted might clarify associations with T and contextual variables. To do so, we used the Sexual Desire Questionnaire (DESQ), which assesses multifaceted dyadic sexual desire, to explore how contextual variables such as social location, relationship status, and desire target (e.g., partner vs. stranger) might be meaningful for reports of sexual desire and associated hormonal correlations. We focused on women (N = 198), because sexual desire and testosterone are generally unlinked in healthy men. Participants imagined a partner or stranger while answering the 65 DESQ items and provided a saliva sample for hormone assay. Analyses showed that the DESQ factored differently for the current sample than in previous research, highlighting how sexual desire can be constructed differently across different populations. We also found that, for the Intimacy, Eroticism, and Partner Focus factors, mean scores were higher when the desire target was a partner relative to a stranger for participants in a relationship, but equally high between partner versus stranger target for single participants. DESQ items resolved into meaningful hormonal desire components, such that high endorsement of Fantasy Experience was linked to higher T, and higher cortisol was linked with lower endorsement of the Intimacy factor. We argue that conceptualizing desire as multifaceted and contextualized when assessing hormonal links—or questions in general about desire—can clarify some of its complexities and lead to new research avenues.
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The article presents a new Polish tool serving to measure the degree of sexual satisfaction achieved with a particular partner. It is a three-factor tool (measuring intimacy, petting, and sex) comprising 10 items that meet standardization requirements completely. The results of the performed factor validity analysis indicate that the three-factor model is the most valid for the purpose of description of sexual satisfaction measured with the SSQ (Sexual Satisfaction Questionnaire)—the aspects of satisfaction singled out in the model are strongly correlated. The three dimensions of satisfaction that were distinguished describe intimacy in a romantic relationship, satisfaction with one’s sex life, and satisfaction with mutual physical contacts other than sex. The cross-validation tests revealed that such a factor structure of the SSQ is stable and characteristic for the representatives of both of the sexes as well as married people. The three-factor structure significantly merges into a single global indicator only in the case of people maintaining partnerships, which advocates verification of a hypothesis regarding differences in the way married and cohabiting partners experience sexual satisfaction.
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Testosterone (T) is implicated in tradeoffs between competition for new partners and nurturance within existing pair bonds. Some evidence suggests women in committed romantic relationships have lower T than singles, similar to findings in men. However, it is unclear whether lower T predicts pair bonding or vice versa, as well as how sexual activity might be implicated in within-person links between T and partnering. We conducted a longitudinal study on T and partnering in women, rooted in the Steroid/Peptide Theory of Social Bonds. Participants (78 women) provided saliva samples for T and completed questionnaires about relationships and sexuality at up to nine monthly study sessions. T and relationship status were bidirectionally linked: lower T predicted becoming committed, and becoming committed then increased women’s T. Masturbation was associated with higher T across relationship statuses; however, dyadic sexual activity moderated T-partnering links, such that committed women only had lower T than singles when they were dyadically sexually active. Results point to reciprocal, interactive associations between partnering, sexuality, and T and generate testable hypotheses for unexpected associations via the S/P Theory.
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Several studies have shown that mothers and fathers have significant lower levels of testosterone (T) than non-mothers and non-fathers, and that in men caregiving is related to a decrease in T. To date, only a few studies have examined T in women. We examined T reactivity to a crying infant simulator in 160 women. Use of oral contraceptives (OC), basal cortisol (CORT) levels and childhood experiences of maternal love withdrawal were taken into account. T levels were consistently significantly higher in women not using OC. In women not using OC, high basal CORT was related to higher initial T levels and larger decreases of T during caregiving. No effect of basal CORT was found in women with OC use. Childhood experiences of maternal love withdrawal did not affect T levels. This is the first study to show support for a decrease of T in women while taking care of a crying infant, supporting the Challenge hypothesis and the Steroid/Peptide Theory of Social Bonds.
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Gender inequality is one of the most pressing issues of our time. A core factor that feeds gender inequality is people's gender ideology—a set of beliefs about the proper order of society in terms of the roles women and men should fill. We argue that gender ideology is shaped, in large parts, by the way people make sense of gender differences. Specifically, people often think of gender differences as expressions of a predetermined biology, and of men and women as different ‘kinds’. We describe work suggesting that thinking of gender differences in this biological-essentialist way perpetuates a non-egalitarian gender ideology. We then review research that refutes the hypothesis that men and women are different ‘kinds’ in terms of brain function, hormone levels and personality characteristics. Next, we describe how the organization of the environment in a gender-binary manner, together with cognitive processes of categorization drive a biological-essentialist view of gender differences. We then describe the self-perpetuating relations, which we term the gender-binary cycle , between a biological-essentialist view of gender differences, a non-egalitarian gender ideology and a binary organization of the environment along gender lines. Finally, we consider means of intervention at different points in this cycle. This article is part of the theme issue ‘The political brain: neurocognitive and computational mechanisms’.
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Reproduction is a fundamental process for the species maintenance and the propagation of genetic information. The energy expenditure for mating is overtaken by motivational stimuli, such as orgasm, finely regulated by steroid hormones, gonadotropins, neurotransmitters and molecules acting in the brain and peripheral organs. These functions are often investigated using animal models and translated to humans, where the androgens action is mediated by nuclear and membrane receptors converging in the regulation of both long-term genomic and rapid non-genomic signals. In both sexes, testosterone is a central player of this game and is involved in the regulation of sexual desire and arousal, and, finally, in reproduction through cognitive and peripheral physiological mechanisms which may decline with aging and circadian disruption. Finally, genetic variations impact on reproductive behaviours, resulting in sex-specific effect and different reproductive strategies. In this review, androgen actions on sexual desire are evaluated, focusing on the molecular levels of interaction.
Chapter
Research on testosterone has long been dominated by a focus on “high testosterone” behaviors, such as aggression, competition, and dominance. The vast majority of this work, including in humans, has also been conducted in exclusively male samples, based in part on presumed links between testosterone and masculinity. Yet testosterone is implicated in many psychological and interpersonal processes for both men and women, and “low testosterone” behaviors may be particularly critical for ongoing close relationships. This fairly narrow focus on high testosterone, in men, leaves major gaps in our understanding of the social neuroendocrinology of close relationships, particularly as related to positive processes like caregiving, support-seeking, and intimacy. The goal of this review is to integrate the literature on testosterone in close relationships, in both men and women, with an eye toward closeness, intimacy, and other positive processes that likely contribute to and are supported by individual differences in testosterone and changes in testosterone over time. I focus on testosterone in the context of romantic and parent-child relationships, and highlight directions for future research that can help to fill important gaps in this literature. Further, I argue that, because close relationships are inherently dynamic and dyadic, longitudinal research that includes both men and women, and ideally both couple members, is critical for a complete understanding of the role of testosterone in close relationship processes.
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A combination of field and laboratory investigations has revealed that the temporal patterns of testosterone (T) levels in blood can vary markedly among populations and individuals, and even within individuals from one year to the next. Although T is known to regulate reproductive behavior (both sexual and aggressive) and thus could be expected to correlate with mating systems, it is clear that the absolute levels of T in blood are not always indicative of reproductive state. Rather, the pattern and amplitude of change in T levels are far more useful in making predictions about the hormonal basis of mating systems and breeding strategies. In these contexts we present a model that compares the amplitude of change in T level with the degree of parental care shown by individual males. On the basis of data collected from male birds breeding in natural or captive conditions, polygynous males appear less responsive to social environmental cues than are monogamous males. This model indicates that there may be widely different hormonal responses to male-male and male-female interactions and presumably equally plastic neural mechanisms for the transduction of these signals into endocrine secretions. Furthermore, evidence from other vertebrate taxa suggests strongly that the model is applicable to other classes
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This review defines sexual desire, distinguishes sexual desire from other sexual experiences (e.g., arousal, activity), discusses common operationalizations of sexual desire, and then examines empirical research on the relationship of androgens, estrogens, progesterone and prolactin to sexual desire in men and women. The findings suggest that minimum critical levels of androgens appear necessary (although not sufficient) for the experience of sexual desire.
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According to one of the founding fathers of psychology, William James, bodily responses and emotional experience are two sides of the same coin (James, 1884). In James's theory, bodily (visceral) changes follow directly the perception of the emotional stimulus, and "our feeling of the same changes as they occur IS the emotion" (p. 190). The question is, however, to what extent bodily changes contribute to emotional experience and whether this contribution is similar in men and women. James's theory appears less appropriate for women than for men with respect to the experience of sexual emotions. A review of the literature on female sexual arousal reveals that there is little agreement between reported genital sensations and changes in genital vasocongestion (Laan & Everaerd, 1995a). Across studies, between- and within-subjects correlations between changes in genital vasocongestion and subjective sexual arousal range from significantly negative, to nonsignificant, to significantly positive. In contrast, correlations between genital and subjective sexual arousal in men are usually significantly positive, despite differences in methodology and procedures. This paper reviews possible explanations for the observed gender differences in agreement between genital response and sexual feelings and offers some tentative answers to the question of what, if not genital response, determines the experience of sexual arousal in women. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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[Conveys] the excitement of a field that has embraced the perspectives and contributions of diverse lines of research [in attempting to understand the interactions between hormones and behavior]. [Gives] due credit to those scientists who laid the foundations of the field by presenting current ideas, hypotheses, and theories within the context of their historical origins. [Attempts] to present behavioral endocrinology in a comparative perspective by including examples of hormone–behavior interactions in as many different kinds of animals as possible. . . . Toward this end, the adaptive function, as well as the physiological mechanisms, of hormone–behavior interactions are presented throughout the text. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This current study examined the effect of a 3-week period of sexual abstinence on the neuroendocrine response to masturbation-induced orgasm. Hormonal and cardiovascular parameters were examined in ten healthy adult men during sexual arousal and masturbation-induced orgasm. Blood was drawn continuously and cardiovascular parameters were constantly monitored. This procedure was conducted for each participant twice, both before and after a 3-week period of sexual abstinence. Plasma was subsequently analysed for concentrations of adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol, prolactin, luteinizing hormone and testosterone concentrations. Orgasm increased blood pressure, heart rate, plasma catecholamines and prolactin. These effects were observed both before and after sexual abstinence. In contrast, although plasma testosterone was unaltered by orgasm, higher testosterone concentrations were observed following the period of abstinence. These data demonstrate that acute abstinence does not change the neuroendocrine response to orgasm but does produce elevated levels of testosterone in males.
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The present study examined whether women's testosterone levels are influenced by being with a sexual and romantic partner after a period of sexual abstinence. Women in long distance relationships (n=15) provided five saliva samples: at least 1 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. Salivary testosterone was lowest when participants had been away from their partners for at least 2 weeks and highest the day before they were to see their partners and the day after sexual activity. Results from this study indicated that women's testosterone increased both the day before they were with their partners and they day after they first engaged in sexual activity. However, something about initially reuniting with their partners returned their testosterone to baseline levels, which may be an effect of being in the same location as a partner, or just a state fluctuation due to nervousness or other psychological state.
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To define the roles of circadian rhythmicity (intrinsic effects of time of day independent of the sleep or wake condition) and sleep (intrinsic effects of the sleep condition, irrespective of the time of day) on the 24-h variation in glucose tolerance, eight normal men were studied during constant glucose infusion for a total of 53 h. The period of study included 8 h of nocturnal sleep, 28 h of continuous wakefulness, and 8 h of daytime sleep. Blood samples for the measurement of glucose, insulin, C-peptide, cortisol, and growth hormone were collected at 20-min intervals throughout the entire study. Insulin secretion rates were derived from C-peptide levels by deconvolution. Sleep was polygraphically monitored. During nocturnal sleep, levels of glucose and insulin secretion increased by 31±5% and 60±11%, respectively, and returned to baseline in the morning. During sleep deprivation, glucose levels and insulin secretion rose again to reach a maximum at a time corresponding to the beginning of the habitual sleep period. The magnitude of the rise above morning levels averaged 17±5% for glucose and 49±8% for calculated insulin secretion. Serum insulin levels did not parallel the circadian variation in insulin secretion, indicating the existence of an approximate 40% increase in insulin clearance during the night. Daytime sleep was associated with a 16±3% rise in glucose levels, a 55±7% rise in insulin secretion, and a 39±5% rise in serum insulin. The diurnal variation in insulin secretion was inversely related to the cortisol rhythm, with a significant correlation of the magnitudes of their morning to evening excursions. Sleep-associated rises in glucose correlated with the amount of concomitant growth hormone secreted. These studies demonstrate previously underappreciated effects of circadian rhythmicity and sleep on glucose levels, insulin secretion, and insulin clearance, and suggest that these effects could be partially mediated by cortisol and growth hormone.
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Whether erotic films made by women are more arousing for women than erotic films made by men was studied. Forty-seven subjects were exposed to both a woman-made, female-initiated, and female centered, erotic film excerpt. Photoplethysmographic vaginal pulse amplitude was recorded continuously. Self-report ratings of sexual arousal and affective reactions were collected after each stimulus presentation. Contrary to expectation, genital arousal did not differ between films, although genital response to both films was substantial. Subjective experience of sexual arousal was significantly higher during the woman-made film. The man-made film evoked more feelings of shame, guilt, and aversion. Correlations between subjective experience of sexual arousal and photoplethysmographic measures of sexual arousal were nonsignificant. The largest contribution to female sexual excitement might result from the processing of stimulus-content and stimulus-meaning and not from peripheral vasocongestive feedback.
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This paper describes a protocol for induction of moderate psychological stress in a laboratory setting and evaluates its effects on physiological responses. The 'Trier Social Stress Test' (TSST) mainly consists of an anticipation period (10 min) and a test period (10 min) in which the subjects have to deliver a free speech and perform mental arithmetic in front of an audience. In six independent studies this protocol has been found to induce considerable changes in the concentration of ACTH, cortisol (serum and saliva), GH, prolactin as well as significant increases in heart rate. As for salivary cortisol levels, the TSST reliably led to 2- to 4-fold elevations above baseline with similar peak cortisol concentrations. Studies are summarized in which TSST-induced cortisol increases elucidated some of the multiple variables contributing to the interindividual variation in adrenocortical stress responses. The results suggest that gender, genetics and nicotine consumption can influence the individual's stress responsiveness to psychological stress while personality traits showed no correlation with cortisol responses to TSST stimulation. From these data we conclude that the TSST can serve as a tool for psychobiological research.
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Data from rodent studies indicate that cumulative stress exposure may accelerate senescence and offer a theory to explain differences in the rate of aging. Cumulative exposure to glucocorticoids causes hippocampal defects, resulting in an impairment of the ability to terminate glucocorticoid secretion at the end of stress and, therefore, in increased exposure to glucocorticoids which, in turn, further decreases the ability of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis to recover from a challenge. However, the consensus emerging from reviews of human studies is that basal corticotropic function is unaffected by aging, suggesting that the negative interaction of stress and aging does not occur in man. In the present study, a total of 177 temporal profiles of plasma cortisol from 90 normal men and 87 women, aged 18-83 yr, were collected from 7 laboratories and reanalyzed. Twelve parameters quantifying mean levels, value and timing of morning maximum and nocturnal nadir, circadian rhythm amplitude, and start and end of quiescent period were calculated for each individual profile. In both men and women, mean cortisol levels increased by 20-50% between 20-80 yr of age. Premenopausal women had slightly lower mean levels than men in the same age range, primarily because of lower morning maxima. The level of the nocturnal nadir increased progressively with aging in both sexes. An age-related elevation in the morning acrophase occurred in women, but not in men. The diurnal rhythmicity of cortisol secretion was preserved in old age, but the relative amplitude was dampened, and the timing of the circadian elevation was advanced. We conclude that there are marked gender-specific effects of aging on the levels and diurnal variation of human adrenocorticotropic activity, consistent with the hypothesis of the "wear and tear" of lifelong exposure to stress. The alterations in circadian amplitude and phase could be involved in the etiology of sleep disorders in the elderly.
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• This study examined physiological, affective, and contextual components of female sexual responsiveness and satisfaction. Fifty-five women, aged 21 to 58, 27 of whom were married, participated in two psychophysiological laboratory sessions and completed a questionnaire. During each laboratory session, physiological and self-reported sexual arousal were measured in response to an erotic tape, film, and self-generated fantasies. Vaginal pulse amplitude responses showed married women to be less aroused to erotic materials during session 1 but not session 2. Self-reported sexual arousal was correlated with vaginal response only in the unmarried sample and only during the tape and film of session 1. Subjectively reported sexual arousal was also correlated with a constellation of positive affective states. Generally, negative correlations were found between vaginal response in the laboratory and reported sexual responsiveness at home. The patterning of the affective-physiological relationships suggests several interpretations with regard to female sexuality and models of human emotion.
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In this paper we provide a critical review of research concerned with social/environmental mechanisms that modulate human neuroendocrine function. We survey research in four behavioral systems that have been shaped through evolution: competition, partnering, sex, and pregnancy/parenting. Generally, behavioral neuroendocrine research examines how hormones affect behavior. Instead, we focus on approaches that emphasize the effects of behavioral states on hormones (i.e., the “reverse relationship”), and their functional significance. We focus on androgens and estrogens because of their relevance to sexually selected traits. We conclude that the body of research employing a reversed or bidirectional perspective has an incomplete foundation: participants are mainly heterosexual men, and the functionality of induced shifts in neuroendocrine factors is generally unknown. This area of research is in its infancy, and opportunities abound for developing and testing intriguing research questions.
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DURING the past two years I have had to spend periods of several weeks on a remote island in comparative isolation. In these conditions I noticed that my beard growth diminished, but the day before I was due to leave the island it increased again, to reach unusually high rates during the first day or two on the mainland. Intrigued by these initial observations, I have carried out a more detailed study and have come to the conclusion that the stimulus for increased beard growth is related to the resumption of sexual activity.
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Examines procedures previously recommended by various authors for the estimation of "change" scores, "residual," or "basefree" measures of change, and other kinds of difference scores. A procedure proposed by F. M. Lord is extended to obtain more precise estimates, and an alternative to the L. R. Tucker, F. Damarin, and S. A. Messick (see 41:3) procedure is offered. A consideration of the purposes for which change measures have been sought in the past leads to a series of recommended procedures which solve research and personnel-decision problems without estimation of change scores for individuals. (22 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
In this landmark work, Drs. Rosen and Beck provide the first complete review of theory and data in the emerging field of sexual psychophysiology. Basic research findings on sexual response are presented along with discussion of clinical applications of sexual psychophysiology to make for a uniquely thorough volume. Similarly, the book provides a carefully balanced integration of theoretical issues with a detailed description of laboratory research findings on specific topics. The material is divided into four major parts. The first provides a historical overview of contemporary sex research and elaborates on the major conceptual foundations from which sexual psychophysiology has developed. Methodological approaches to laboratory sex research are covered extensively in the second section of the book, which also provides a thorough review of specific measurement techniques and critiques the underlying assumptions involved in each assessment approach. Part three of the book is devoted to current areas of applied research, such as the effects of pornography, drugs, and alcohol on patterns of sexual response, and the use of psychophysiological methods in the treatment of sexual dysfunction. Finally, the text addresses future directions for research in sexual psychophysiology, with an emphasis on social, ethical, and procedural concerns. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Penile tumescence and subjective sexual arousal were measured while 36 men viewed an erotic film segment and soon afterwards reproduced imaginally the sexual events that had been depicted in the film. Film elicited higher levels of physiological and subjective sexual arousal than was found for fantasy involving similar sexual content. Levels of sexual arousal during film and fantasy were more closely associated with the extent the subjects had felt absorbed during erotic stimulation than with imagery scores on the Betts Questionnaire Upon Mental Imagery, the Tellegen Absorption Scale, and the Imaginal Processes Inventory. The subjects reported being more absorbed while watching the film than during imaginal representation of the film content, and film remained more sexually arousing than fantasy even when allowance was made for differences in level of absorption between the two modalities. Further directions for studying the basis for differences in sexual arousal between film and fantasy are outlined.
Article
This study tested for behavioral and hormonal reactions of young men to brief social encounters with potential mating partners. Male college students were randomly assigned to engage in a short conversation with either a young man (male condition) or a young woman (female condition). Participants provided saliva samples before and after the conversation, completed a battery of psychological measures after the interaction, and had their behavior rated by their conversation partners. Salivary testosterone (T) increased significantly over baseline levels in the female condition only, though differences between conditions were not significant. In addition, change in T was significantly correlated with the degree to which the female confederates thought the male participants were trying to impress them. These behavioral ratings, in turn, were correlated with the participants' ratings of the female confederates as potential romantic partners. Results were generally consistent with the hypothesis that human males may exhibit a behavioral and endocrine courtship response that is similar to that observed in males of many nonhuman vertebrate species.
Article
The relationships between plasma free testosterone (FT) and measures of sexual attitude, sexual behavior, and gender role behavior were assessed in 55 oral contraceptive-using and 53 nonusing female undergraduates. Plasma FT and other measures of androgenicity were substantially lower in the oral contraceptive (OC) group. Correlations between FT and certain behavioral and attitudinal measures were found in the OC users but not the nonusers. In the OC users, FT was positively associated with frequency of sexual intercourse but not with frequency of masturbation. It was negatively associated with restrictive sexual morality. Correlations between FT and measures of gender role behavior were negligible, and FT was unrelated to proceptivity, homosexual interest, or the use of sexual fantasy. The occurrence of some predicted correlations among pill-using women but not the nonusers requires explanation, particularly in view of the substantially lower levels of FT in the pill-using group. It is suggested that androgen—behavior relationships in women are easily obscured by psychosocial influences and in this sample of young women such influences may have been more powerful among those not using OCs. Such psychosocial influences are likely to differ at different stages of women's life cycles. The importance of controlling for such influences in any study of hormone—sexual behavior relationships in women is emphasized, and the need for prospective studies of women before and after starting on steroidal contraception is recognized.
Article
The psychoneuroendocrine responses to sexual arousal have not been clearly established in humans. However, we have demonstrated previously that masturbation-induced orgasm stimulates cardiovascular activity and induces increases in catecholamines and prolactin in blood of both males and females. We presently investigated the role of orgasm in producing these effects. Therefore, in this study parallel analysis of prolactin, adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol concentrations, together with cardiovascular variables of systolic/diastolic blood pressure and heart rate were undertaken during film-induced sexual arousal in nine healthy adult men and nine healthy adult women. Blood was drawn continuously via an indwelling cannula and connected tubing system passed through a mini-pump. In parallel, the cardiovascular parameters were recorded continuously via a computerised finger-cuff sensor. Subjective sexual arousal increased significantly in both men and women during the erotic film, with sexual arousal eliciting an increase in blood pressure in both males and females, and plasma noradrenaline in females only. In contrast, adrenaline, cortisol and prolactin levels were unaffected by sexual arousal. These data further consolidate the role of sympathetic activation in sexual arousal processes. Furthermore, they demonstrate that increases in plasma prolactin during sexual stimulation are orgasm-dependent, suggesting that prolactin may regulate a negative-feedback sexual-satiation mechanism.
Article
Recently, Roney et al. (Roney, J.R., Lukaszewski, A.W., Simmons, Z.L., 2007. Rapid endocrine responses of young men to social interactions with young women. Horm. Behav. 52, 326–33; Roney, J.R., Mahler, S.V., Maestripieri, D., 2003. Behavioral and hormonal responses of men to brief interactions with women. Evol. Hum. Behav. 24, 365–375) demonstrated that men release testosterone and cortisol in response to brief social interactions with young women. The current experiment examined whether women show a similar endocrine response to physically and behaviorally attractive men. 120 women (70 naturally-cycling and 50 using hormonal contraceptives) were shown one of four 20-minute video montages extracted from popular films, depicting the following scenarios: 1) an attractive man courting a young woman (experimental stimulus), 2) a nature documentary (video clip control), 3) an unattractive older man courting a woman (male control), and 4) an attractive woman with no men present (female control). Saliva samples were taken before and after presentation of the stimulus, and were later analyzed for testosterone and cortisol content via enzyme immunoassay. Naturally-cycling women experienced a significant increase in both testosterone and cortisol in response to the experimental stimulus but to none of the control stimuli. Participants taking hormonal contraceptives also showed a significant cortisol response to the attractive man. Women may release adrenal steroid hormones to facilitate courtship interactions with high mate-value men.
Article
We assessed the impact of an individual difference variable, relationship-focused thinking, on women's acute salivary cortisol responses during and after a guided imagery task. Specifically, 29 healthy women, all of whom were experiencing high levels of passionate love, but varied on levels of relationship-focused thinking, were assigned to one of two experimental conditions: a partner reflection condition or a cross-sex friend reflection condition. Results indicated that women experiencing passionate love evidenced increased cortisol levels when asked to reflect on their romantic partner and relationship relative to women asked to reflect on a cross-sex friendship, but this difference was particularly pronounced and relatively long-lasting for those women characterized by a high amount of relationship-focused thinking. Our study significantly expands extant work on the passionate love–cortisol link by isolating the impact of a specific psychological variable, relationship-focused thinking, on the physiological experience of falling in love. We believe our work highlights the advances that can be made when established work in the close relationships and neuroendocrine fields are integrated.
Article
Cross-cultural evidence links pair bonding and testosterone (T). We investigated what factors account for this link, how casual relationships are implicated, and whether gender/sex moderates these patterns in a North American sample. We gathered saliva samples for radioimmunoassay of T and self-report data on background, health, and social/relational variables from 115 women and 120 men to test our predictions, most of which were supported. Our results show that singles have higher T than long-term (LT) partnered individuals, and that casual relationships without serious romantic commitment are more like singlehood for men and LT relationships for women-in terms of T. We were also able to demonstrate what factors mediate the association between partnering and T: in women, frequency of partnered sexual activity mediated the effect in men, interest in more/new partners mediated the effect. This supported our prediction of relationship status interpretations in women, but relationship orientation in men. Results replicated past findings that neither sexual desire nor extrapair sexuality underlie the T-partnering link. We were able to rule out a large number of viable alternative explanations ranging from the lifestyle (e.g., sleep) to the social (e.g., social support). Our data thus demonstrate pattern and mediators for the development of T-pair bonding associations, and emphasize the importance of neither under- nor overstating the importance of gender/sex in research about the evolution of intimacy.
Article
Men engage in aggression at a cost to extrinsic reward, and this behaviour is associated with a rise in testosterone. To characterize the factors underlying aggression, men were assigned to one of the four experimental conditions of a computer game in which they were provoked (points were stolen from them or not) and/or received reward for aggression (received points for aggression or not). Men who were provoked but did not receive reward for aggression enjoyed the task the most, demonstrated an increase in salivary testosterone, and were more likely to choose a competitive versus non-competitive task than men in the other experimental conditions. Moreover, individual differences in aggressive behaviour among these men were positively correlated with the extent to which they enjoyed the task and with testosterone fluctuations. These results indicate that costly aggressive behaviour is intrinsically rewarding, perhaps to regulate future interactions, and that testosterone may be a physiological marker of such reward value.
Article
Previous research indicates that testosterone concentrations are highly responsive to human competitive interactions and that winners have elevated testosterone concentrations relative to losers. Also, there is some evidence that simply observing others compete can have a similar effect on the endocrine system. Here, in two studies, we examined the extent to which elite male hockey players would demonstrate an increase in testosterone concentrations after watching themselves engaged in a previous successful competitive interaction. Results indicated that watching a previous victory produced a significant increase in testosterone concentrations (42-44% increase), whereas watching a previous defeat or a neutral video did not produce a significant change in testosterone (17% and 6%, respectively). Given that natural fluctuations in testosterone have been shown to influence future competitive and aggressive behaviours, the current studies may have important practical implications for individuals involved in competitive sports.
Article
In an impressive series of studies, Edwards and O'Neal (this issue) present evidence that argues strongly in favor of including women on oral contraceptives (OC) when measuring the effects of competition on salivary testosterone (T). Compared to non-users, Edwards and O'Neal find that OC users showed the same increase in T after competition as non-users, despite the fact that OC users had much lower levels of salivary T before and after the competition (pre- sumably due to OC's inhibition of FSH and LH). These findings have important design consequences.
Article
Women athletes from intercollegiate soccer, volleyball, and softball teams, and women skaters from a team competing in an amateur roller derby league, contributed saliva samples before warm-up and immediately after the completion of one or more sanctioned competitions. Women using oral contraceptives (OCs, n=29) had a significantly lower mean level of saliva testosterone (T) than non-users (n=51). Thus, OCs contribute predictable variation to individual differences in saliva T, and OC use is likely to contribute to individual differences in measures of psychological processes and/or behavior which are causally related to individual differences in circulating testosterone. Most of the women (n=68) played during one or more of the competitions for which they contributed saliva samples. Whether for soccer, volleyball, softball, or roller derby, competition was associated with a robust increase in saliva T. Although OC users had significantly lower saliva T levels than non-users before and after-competition, both users and non-users showed virtually the same increase in saliva T over the course of competition. While the most proximal cause of this increase is not known, it is probably not the result of an increase in gonadotropin (GTH) secretion since an increase in GTH secretion would presumably be prevented by OC use.
Article
Objectives: To evaluate feasibility and reliability of measuring saliva cortisol in athletes. Design and methods: Saliva cortisol was measured in 25 soccer players, and compared with serum cortisol measured with two commercial immunoassays. Results: A highly significant correlation was observed between saliva and serum cortisol. The percentage of saliva and serum values above the upper limit of the reference range was nearly identical. Conclusions: Salivary measurement is a suitable approach for monitoring cortisol in athletes.
Article
Few studies have examined how sexual arousal influences healthy premenopausal women's hormones, limiting our understanding of basic physiology and our ability to transfer knowledge from clinical and nonhuman populations. To examine how sexual arousal and steroid hormones (testosterone [T], cortisol [C], estradiol [E]) were linked, to see whether hormone levels influenced and/or changed in response to sexual arousal elicited via visual erotic stimuli in healthy women. Participants included 40 healthy premenopausal women not using exogenous hormones. Change in genital sexual arousal (vaginal pulse amplitude), change in subjective sexual arousal, sexual desire (via the Sexual Desire Inventory and Female Sexual Function Index scales), as well as T, C, and E via saliva samples taken before and following viewing of erotic stimuli as genital arousal was recorded via a vaginal photoplethysmograph. E increased in response to sexual stimuli but this was not statistically associated with genital sexual arousal, whereas C decreased in association with genital sexual arousal, and T showed no statistically significant change. Relationship status was linked to genital but not subjective sexual arousal such that dating women exhibited higher genital sexual arousal than single or partnered women. Results indicated that all three hormones were associated with self-reported genital arousal (via the Detailed Assessment of Sexual Arousal scales) and sexual desire in different domains, and both T and E were associated with self-reported orgasms. Findings point to the need to examine multiple hormones in multiple ways (e.g., baseline, changes, stimulated) and question using erotic stimuli-induced arousal as a model for women's endocrine responses to sexuality.
Article
In line with the challenge hypothesis, this study investigated the effects of the presence of a woman on the testosterone (T) levels of young men. An informal contact with a woman of approximately 5 min resulted in an increase in salivary T among men. These effects occurred particularly in men with an aggressive dominant personality. In addition, higher salivary T levels were related to a more aggressively dominant personality, being sexual inactive for a month or more, and not being involved in a committed, romantic relationship. The most important findings of this study are that the short presence of a woman induces specific hormonal reactions in men, and that these effects are stronger for aggressively dominant men.
Article
The hypothesis is tested that luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH( may be released from the anterior pituitary in response to a psychological state of sexual arousal. LH levels in 10 male volunteers were found to be higher after viewing a sexually arousing film than after a control film. The magnitude of LH response was found to be positively correlated with the subjective evaluation of sexual arousal. FSH levels tended in the same direction bu the predominant and unexpected finding for this hormone was that levels were consistently lower during the first session, when anxiety was high, and higher during the second session, when anxiety was less, whether control or stimulus film had been shown. This study is analogous to those demonstrating the responsiveness of other anterior pituitary hormones to specific psychological states.
Article
The hormonal response of the male rat to sexual activity was investigated in two studies. In the first, no evidence of a chronic elevation in plasma levels of testosterone (T), LH, or prolactin (PRL) was observed in sexually experienced rats compared to naive controls. Both groups showed an acute increase in plasma levels of all three hormones following mating, but the increases shown by the experienced group were more pronounced. In the second study, plasma levels of T, LH and PRL rose in sexually experienced male rats following exposure to a mating arena whether it contained an estrous female, an anestrous female, or no other animal. However, the increases were considerably larger in the group exposed to estrous females. It is suggested that plasma hormones rise in anticipation of mating, although not to the same extent as following mating, and that the anticipatory rise may function to initiate or facilitate mating behavior.
Article
Salivary testosterone concentrations were measured in male and female members of four heterosexual couples on a total of 11 evenings before and after sexual intercourse and 11 evenings on which there was no intercourse. Testosterone increased across the evening when there was intercourse and decreased when there was none. The pattern was the same for males and females. Early evening measured did not differ on the two kinds of days, suggesting that sexual activity affects testosterone more than initial testosterone affects sexual activity.
Article
The clinical applications of salivary cortisol measurements were evaluated by radioimmunoassay of time-matched saliva and plasma samples. Salivary cortisol levels of normal subjects exhibited a significant (p less than 0.001) diurnal variation with a mean (+/- SD) concentration of 8.7 +/- 4.8 nmol/L at 0800-1000 h and 2.4 +/- 1.1 nmol/l at 1500-1700 h. After an overnight dexamethasone suppression test, morning salivary cortisol levels decrease to 2.7 +/- 0.7 nmol/L (p less than 0.001 vs normal). An excellent correlation (r = 0.805) of cortisol measurements with time-matched saliva and plasma samples was obtained (y = 0.03x + 0.88, p less than 0.001, n = 91). Hypercortisolism was confirmed by raised salivary cortisols in only half of patients with elevated total plasma levels, thereby indicating that salivary cortisol measurements is a better index of adrenal status.
Article
Measures of testosterone among women are potentially useful in behavioral research, but information is needed on how much error is introduced by variability across the menstrual cycle. Morning and evening salivary testosterone concentrations were measured at weekly intervals across one menstrual cycle in each of 22 women, using the luteinizing hormone surge to mark midcycle. Menstrual cycles were statistically significant but smaller than daily cycles or individual differences. Menstrual cycle effects can be ignored in most research relating psychological and behavioral variables to individual differences in testosterone.
Article
The unexplored possibility that a sexually induced endocrine response might prime further sexual arousal in women guided the current investigation. Healthy, premenopausal, heterosexual women in the follicular phase of their menstrual cycle were randomly assigned to either an experimental or a control group. The experimental group was exposed to a sexually explicit videotape, while the control group saw a nonerotic videotape. Ninety minutes later both groups saw a sexually explicit videotape. Vaginal vasocongestion and hormones (cortisol, prolactin, luteinizing hormone, testosterone) were measured continuously and subjective responses were sampled at 20-min intervals. Compared to controls, experimental subjects showed a greater amplitude and longer duration vaginal response to the second videotape. Subjective measures showed greater sexual response to the second erotic videotape compared to the first, an effect that was not mediated by the hormones measured here. Prolactin decreased significantly across the session for both groups, and several behavioral and affective responses were significantly correlated with hormonal levels. Commonalities and divergence with results of prior research point to the complexity and subtlety of endocrine interactions with sexual response as well as likely sex differences in hormone-behavioral interactions.