Lady Friday On Testosterone And Desire
28th OF June 2012
Testosterone And Desire
Name what you know about testosterone. Go.
Here's what you probably came up with: it's the 'male' hormone; its 'female' counter part is estrogen; it's what fuels aggression, desire and 'macho' behaviour; it can provide a bit of relief from menopause symptoms...
Testosterone is often used as a by-word for manliness, but both men and women have it - and a recent study by the University of Michigan showed that it has a complex relationship with how we feel desire.
The study, which measured the testosterone of nearly 200 healthy men and women while asking them questions about their sex life and activities, found a few interesting things.
One: the idea that testosterone makes men more eager to get into bed is a myth - it didn't matter what level the men had, their desires weren't correlated at all.
The second discovery, though, is an intriguing one. Women with higher levels of testosterone didn't have a stronger libido - what they did have was a much stronger urge to self-pleasure.
This is a pretty good biological contribution to a puzzle which has been concerning sexuality researchers for ages: why do some women love self-pleasuring like it's their daily bread, and some women get by without any?
Lots of theories have been posed. Self-pleasure has been shown to be influenced by how much education you've had, whether you've had a lot of relationships, whether you started experimenting before puberty, and - obviously - if you come from a culture where it's regarded as sinful or forbidden. However, given that we're in the Golden Age of the Vibrator - literally, as you can buy an 18k gold version - it can feel alienating for women who just don't have that desire.
Fear not: turns out you might simply not have a high level of testosterone. Testosterone is often a reaction to stress - it's excreted by a gland which ramps up production in situations of pressure and anxiety. Possibly the relationship with self-pleasuring is Mother Nature's way of building in a method to chill us out.
The third discovery? That women with high testosterone feel less like getting intimate, rather than more. This is where it gets a bit complicated. Studies have also shown that women in long-term relationships - ie, friendly, less passionate ones - have lower levels of testosterone.
This used to be a 'that's why she's not interested in sex' standby - but now it looks like it's more complicated. Women with higher testosterone don't need a partner - perhaps women with lower testosterone levels do, or want to bond with one without intimacy.
So does testosterone have anything to do with partner-desire in women at all? The scientists behind this study aren't sure that it does.
The 'manly' hormone is undergoing a shift in perception - and RESCU will update you on everything you need to know...
Lady Friday xx
Taking the pillow talk out of the bedroom, every Friday..
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