Open Access Highly Accessed Research

The female menstrual cycle does not influence testosterone concentrations in male partners

Jakob O Strom1*, Edvin Ingberg1, Emma Druvefors2, Annette Theodorsson13 and Elvar Theodorsson1

Author Affiliations

1 Clinical Chemistry, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Department of Clinical Chemistry, County Council of Östergötland, SE-58185, Linköping, Sweden

2 Department of Surgery, Ryhov County Hospital, County Council of Jönköping, SE- 551 11, Jönköping, Sweden

3 Neurosurgery, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Department of Neurosurgery, County Council of Östergötland, SE-58185, Linköping, Sweden

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Journal of Negative Results in BioMedicine 2012, 11:1  doi:10.1186/1477-5751-11-1

Published: 3 January 2012

Abstract

Background

The time of ovulation has since long been believed to be concealed to male heterosexual partners. Recent studies have, however, called for revision of this notion. For example, male testosterone concentrations have been shown to increase in response to olfactory ovulation cues, which could be biologically relevant by increasing sexual drive and aggressiveness. However, this phenomenon has not previously been investigated in real-life human settings. We therefore thought it of interest to test the hypothesis that males' salivary testosterone concentrations are influenced by phases of their female partners' menstrual cycle; expecting a testosterone peak at ovulation.

Methods

Thirty young, healthy, heterosexual couples were recruited. During the course of 30-40 days, the women registered menses and ovulation, while the men registered sexual activity, physical exercise, alcohol intake and illness (confounders), and obtained daily saliva samples for testosterone measurements. All data, including the registered confounders, were subjected to multiple regression analysis.

Results

In contrast to the hypothesis, the ovulation did not affect the testosterone levels, and the resulting testosterone profile during the menstrual cycle was on the average flat. The specific main hypothesis, that male testosterone levels on the day of ovulation would be higher than day 4 of the cycle, was clearly contradicted by a type II error(β)-analysis (< 14.3% difference in normalized testosterone concentration; β = 0.05).

Conclusions

Even though an ovulation-related salivary testosterone peak was observed in individual cases, no significant effect was found on a group level.

Keywords:
Testosterone; Menstrual cycle; Ovulation; Salivary; Pheromones; Hormones