Fathers’ decline in testosterone and synchrony with partner testosterone during pregnancy predicts greater postpartum relationship investment

Darby E. Saxbe, Robin S. Edelstein, Hannah M. Lyden, Britney M. Wardecker, William J. Chopik, Amy C. Moors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

The transition to parenthood has been associated with declines in testosterone among partnered fathers, which may reflect males’ motivation to invest in the family. Moreover, preliminary evidence has found that couples show correlations in hormone levels across pregnancy that may also be linked to fathers’ preparation for parenthood. The current study used repeated-measures sampling of testosterone across pregnancy to explore whether fathers’ change in T, and correlations with mothers’ T, were associated with fathers’ and mothers’ postpartum investment. In a sample of 27 couples (54 individuals) expecting their first child, both parents’ salivary testosterone was measured multiple times across pregnancy. At approximately 3.5 months postpartum, participants rated their investment, commitment, and satisfaction with their partner. A multilevel model was used to measure change in testosterone over time and associations between mother and father testosterone. Fathers who showed stronger declines in T across pregnancy, and stronger correlations with mothers’ testosterone, reported higher postpartum investment, commitment, and satisfaction. Mothers reported more postpartum investment and satisfaction if fathers showed greater prenatal declines in T. These results held even after controlling for paternal investment, commitment, and satisfaction measured prenatally at study entry. Our results suggest that changes in paternal testosterone across pregnancy, and hormonal linkage with the pregnant partner, may underlie fathers’ dedication to the partner relationship across the transition to parenthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-47
Number of pages9
JournalHormones and Behavior
Volume90
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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