Friday, June 22, 2012
Testosterone and masturbation
It has long been assumed that men typically want to have sex more often than women because they have higher levels of testosterone. But a team from the University of Michigan found that women with high testosterone had a greater desire to masturbate compared to their peers. However, they were surprised to discover that women with higher testosterone levels were less likely to want to have sex with a partner. It suggests that behind the finding is a complex web of factors including anxiety. Researchers recruited 105 men and 91 women who completed questionnaires about their sex lives, answering questions such as "Are you self-conscious of your body during sex?" They also provided a saliva sample which was tested for both testosterone and the stress hormone cortisol. Testosterone is a steroid hormone that is released by the ovaries in women and testes in men as well as in the adrenal gland in both sexes. Researchers found that levels of testosterone had nothing to do with how often men thought about masturbation or sex. However, women with higher testosterone were less likely to want sex with someone. Although it may seem counter-intuitive it fits with previous studies that have found women in long-term relationships have lower testosterone. It could be that the hormone drives them to find a partner to be close to rather than just have sex with. Or it may be that higher testosterone reflects higher stress in women rather than a higher sexual drive. The one link researchers found was between masturbation and sexual desire. Men were more likely to masturbate than women and also reported a greater desire to have sex. It is not yet known whether desire triggers masturbation or vice versa.