August 14, 2018
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Testosterone level not influenced by partner’s menstrual cycle

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A heterosexual man’s morning testosterone levels are not influenced by a partner’s ovulation cycle, according to findings published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

“It has not been established whether men in heterosexual relationships adapt their hormone levels to their female partner and join in the rhythmicity of the menstrual cycle,” Jakob O. Ström, MD, PhD, of the department of neurology at Orebro University School of Medical Sciences, Sweden, and colleagues wrote in the study background. “Even if it has been shown in laboratory settings that female fertility cues acutely affect male testosterone levels, real-life observational studies in couples have failed to provide evidence for an induced hormone cycle in males.”

Ström and colleagues analyzed data from 48 heterosexual couples aged 18 to 50 years, living together and not using hormonal contraception. The study began at a random time point in the women’s menstrual cycle and proceeded for 120 days. Men provided saliva samples at the same time every morning at home. Acne on the face was registered daily by each male participant. Men were instructed to register times of masturbation, intercourse, exercise, illness (defined as fever or other illness preventing work), absence from partner overnight and sampling mishaps. Women were instructed to record first day of menstrual cycle and day of ovulation, detected using luteinizing hormone tests for home use. All participants completed the Quality of Dyadic Relationships-36 and the Swedish Relationship Assessment Scale, as well as the Perceived Stress Scale. Researchers analyzed whether each man’s testosterone or acne response to ovulation (either an increase or a decrease in comparison to the man’s average levels) was stable over time using Spearman correlation.

During preovulatory periods, mean normalized testosterone levels were 0.99 pg/mL (95% CI, 0.96-1.03), meaning that levels during the preovulatory period did not differ from the remaining cycle, according to researchers.

Researchers observed no correlation between the average normalized salivary testosterone levels in men near ovulation in the first and second half of the study.

“In other words, a certain periovulatory testosterone pattern (peak or valley) during the first part of the study did not predict similar pattern during the second part of the study,” the researchers wrote. “Therefore, no further mediator/confounder analysis was performed.”

Among men, 40 reported at least one acne lesion during the study; however, because some men reported only one or a few acne lesions during the entire study, many of the average normalized acne values at periovulatory periods were zero, according to the researchers.

 

“In this study, no effect of the female ovulation on male testosterone could be demonstrated,” the researchers wrote. “This was in spite of the study being powered to detect subgroup patterns of male testosterone either rising or falling near ovulation. The substantial number of participants and samples, excellent compliance of the participants and lack of even a slight trend to support the hypothesis strongly indicates that this negative finding is valid.”

The researchers noted that the findings contradict earlier studies that suggest a link between testosterone levels in men and women’s ovulatory patterns.

“This discordance to previous laboratory studies could either indicate that (i) the phenomenon of hormonal adaptation of men to women does not exist and earlier experimental studies should be questioned, (ii) the phenomenon is short-lived/acute and wanes off if the exposure is too long, or (iii) the male testosterone response is directed toward other women than the partner,” the researchers wrote. – by Regina Schaffer

Disclosures: Strom reports he has received consultant fees for participation in an advisory board for Bayer AB in 2016. The other authors report no relevant financial disclosures.