Changes in prenatal testosterone and sexual desire in expectant couples

Lester Sim, William J. Chopik, Britney M. Wardecker, Robin S. Edelstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104823
JournalHormones and Behavior
Volume125
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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