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The Naked Truth The Sexual Health Blog

Relationships and testosterone

September 26th, 2011 by Carla

Testosterone makes the man?

How does having a long-term partner affect hormone levels?


Testosterone. It’s what makes men, well, men…in part, anyway.

It deepens our voices, grows the Adam’s apple, increases muscle mass and strength, and increases hair over the entirety of the body. On the other hand, men with very low testosterone might experience anxiety and depression. Bottom line, this hormone greatly affects men’s physiological and mental health.

A recent study by researchers at Simon Fraser University shows an interesting link between testosterone and men’s so-called “relationship orientation”…and it turns out that singles have higher T-levels than men in long-term partnerships.

How did the study work? Researchers analyzed the saliva samples of 120 men, and surveyed them to get a sense of their sexual behavior, relationship status, and interest or willingness to seek out new partners. Findings showed that:

  • Men who were sexually exclusive with one partner had lower testosterone, on average
  • Men who were sexually exclusive with one partner ⎼ but still looking for other partners ⎼ did not show a reduced level of testosterone.

The research also showed that long-term relationships eventually led to a long-term decrease in men’s overall T-levels, from which researchers drew the following conclusions:

  • Lower T-levels may be linked to a parental instinct which focuses energy on bonding and child rearing…rather than mating
  • Men with higher T-levels may be more prone to cheating on their partners. In fact, a previous study of 2,100 U.S. Air Force veterans showed that male subjects with higher T-levels were 43% more likely to get divorced than male subjects with normal levels.

What about T-levels in women?
Same deal…but with an interesting twist: the same study found that women who are sexually active in multiple relationships have higher T-levels than both single women and women in monogamous relationships. In other words, while men’s T-levels are higher by their mere interest in new or more partners, women’s T-levels are more closely linked to the frequency of actual sexual activity in a relationship(s).

Who would have thought that changing your relationship status on Facebook has an affect your T-levels, too?

Photo: Flickr user JonoMueller, CC 2.0

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