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It has been found that when testosterone and endorphins in ejaculated semen meet the cervical wall after sexual intercourse, females receive a spike in testosterone, endorphin, and oxytocin levels, and males after orgasm during copulation experience an increase in endorphins and a marked increase in oxytocin levels. This adds to the hospitable physiological environment in the female internal reproductive tract for conceiving, and later for nurturing the conceptus in the pre-embryonic stages, and stimulates feelings of love, desire, and paternal care in the male (this is the only time male oxytocin levels rival a female's).[1]

Testosterone levels follow a nyctohemeral rhythm which peaks early each day, regardless of sexual activity[2]

Positive correlations between positive orgasm experience in women and testosterone levels where relaxation was a key perception of the experience. There is no correlation between testosterone and men’s perceptions of their orgasm experience, and also no correlation between higher testosterone levels and greater sexual assertiveness in either sex.[3]

An increase in T levels has also been found to occur in both men and women who have orgasms that are masturbation-induced.[4][5]

Mammalian studies[]

Studies conducted on rats have indicated that their degree of sexual arousal is sensitive to reductions in testosterone. When testosterone-deprived rats were given medium levels of testosterone, their sexual behaviors (copulation, partner preference, etc.) resumed, but not when given low amounts of the same hormone. Therefore, these mammals may provide a model for studying clinical populations among humans suffering from sexual arousal deficits such as hypoactive sexual desire disorder.[6]

In one study, almost every mammalian species examined demonstrated a marked increase in a male's testosterone level upon encountering a novel female. P.J. James et al. investigated the role of genotype on such so-called reflexive testosterone increases in male mice. They also concluded that this response is related to the male's initial level of sexual arousal.[7]

In non-human primates it has been suggested that testosterone in puberty stimulates sexual motivation, which allows the primate to increasingly seek out sexual experiences with females and thus creates a sexual preference for females.[8] Some research has also indicated that if testosterone is eliminated in an adult male human or other adult male primate's system, its sexual motivation decreases, but there is no corresponding decrease in ability to engage in sexual activity (mounting, ejaculating, etc.).[8]

Male sexual arousal[]

Higher levels of testosterone were associated with periods of sexual activity within subjects, but between subjects testosterone levels were higher for less sexually active individuals.[9] Men who have sexual encounters with unfamiliar or multiple partners experience large increases of testosterone the morning after.[10]

Men who watch a sexually explicit movie have an average increase of 35% in testosterone, peaking at 60-90 min after the end of the film, but no increase is seen in men who watch sexually neutral films.[11] Men who watch sexually explicit films also report increased optimism and decreased exhaustion.[12] Based on previous research that has found a link between relaxation following sexual arousal and testosterone levels,[13]

Testosterone increases in men who engage in brief conversations with women. This result was seen in heterosexual men who had engaged in sexual activity in the 6 months prior to the study. The increase in T levels was associated with the amount of “courtship” behaviours that the men exhibited.[14]

Men’s levels of testosterone, a hormone known to affect men’s mating behaviour, changes depending on whether they are exposed to an ovulating or nonovulating woman’s body odour. Men who are exposed to scents of ovulating women maintained a stable testosterone level that was higher than the testosterone level of men exposed to nonovulation cues. Testosterone levels and sexual arousal in men are heavily aware of hormone cycles in females.[15] This may be linked to the ovulatory shift hypothesis,[16] where males are adapted to respond to the ovulation cycles of females by sensing when they are most fertile and whereby females look for preferred male mates when they are the most fertile; both actions may be driven by hormones.

When males are exposed to either visual or auditory erotic stimuli and asked them to complete a cognitive task, where the number of errors on the task indicated how distracted the participant was by the stimuli. They concluded that men with lower thresholds for sexual arousal have a greater likelihood to attend to sexual information and that testosterone may have an impact by enhancing their attention to the relevant stimuli.[17]

Sperm competition theory: Testosterone levels are shown to increase as a response to previously neutral stimuli when conditioned to become sexual in male rats.[18] This reaction engages penile reflexes (such as erection and ejaculation) that aid in sperm competition when more than one male is present in mating encounters, allowing for more production of successful sperm and a higher chance of reproduction.

Female sexual arousal[]

Androgens may modulate the physiology of vaginal tissue and contribute to female genital sexual arousal.[19]

Women’s levels of testosterone are higher when measured pre-intercourse vs pre-cuddling, as well as post-intercourse vs post-cuddling.[20]

López, Hay, and Conklin (2009) found that women who are non-pill users experience a significant increase in testosterone levels in response to viewing a video of an attractive man courting a young woman. This was in comparison with the control conditions.[3]

When females have a higher baseline level of testosterone, they had higher increases in sexual arousal levels but smaller increases in testosterone, indicating a ceiling effect on testosterone levels in females. Sexual thoughts also change the level of testosterone but not level of cortisol in the female body, and that hormonal contraceptives may have an impact on the variation in testosterone response to sexual thoughts.[21]

Van Anders and Dunn (2009) also studied the link between testosterone and orgasms in women, and found a correlation between high T levels and positive orgasm experience. This occurred in both the partnered and solitary context of orgasm.[3]

There is a time lag effect when testosterone is administered, on genital arousal in women. In addition, a continuous increase in vaginal sexual arousal may result in higher genital sensations and sexual appetitive behaviors.[22]

Testosterone may prove to be an effective treatment in female sexual arousal disorders.[23] There is no current androgen preparation or for the treatment of androgen insufficiency approved by the FDA at this point in time, but it has been used off-label to treat low libido and sexual dysfunction in older women. Testosterone may be a treatment for postmenopausal women as long as they are effectively estrogenized.[23]


See also[]


  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named pmid15177709
  2. Fox CA, Ismail AA, Love DN, Kirkham KE, Loraine JA (January 1972). Studies on the relationship between plasma testosterone levels and human sexual activity. J. Endocrinol. 52 (1): 51–8.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 van Anders SM, Dunn EJ (August 2009). Are gonadal steroids linked with orgasm perceptions and sexual assertiveness in women and men?. Horm Behav 56 (2): 206–13.
  4. Exton MS, Bindert A, Krüger T, Scheller F, Hartmann U, Schedlowski M (1999). Cardiovascular and endocrine alterations after masturbation-induced orgasm in women. Psychosom Med 61 (3): 280–9.
  5. Purvis K, Landgren BM, Cekan Z, Diczfalusy E (September 1976). Endocrine effects of masturbation in men. J. Endocrinol. 70 (3): 439–44.
  6. Harding SM, Velotta JP (May 2011). Comparing the relative amount of testosterone required to restore sexual arousal, motivation, and performance in male rats. Horm Behav 59 (5): 666–73.
  7. James PJ, Nyby JG, Saviolakis GA (September 2006). Sexually stimulated testosterone release in male mice (Mus musculus): roles of genotype and sexual arousal. Horm Behav 50 (3): 424–31.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Wallen K (September 2001). Sex and context: hormones and primate sexual motivation. Horm Behav 40 (2): 339–57.
  9. Kraemer HC, Becker HB, Brodie HK, Doering CH, Moos RH, Hamburg DA (March 1976). Orgasmic frequency and plasma testosterone levels in normal human males. Arch Sex Behav 5 (2): 125–32.
  10. Hirschenhauser K, Frigerio D, Grammer K, Magnusson MS (September 2002). Monthly patterns of testosterone and behavior in prospective fathers. Horm Behav 42 (2): 172–81.
  11. Pirke KM, Kockott G, Dittmar F (November 1974). Psychosexual stimulation and plasma testosterone in man. Arch Sex Behav 3 (6): 577–84.
  12. Hellhammer DH, Hubert W, Schürmeyer T (1985). Changes in saliva testosterone after psychological stimulation in men. Psychoneuroendocrinology 10 (1): 77–81.
  13. Rowland DL, Heiman JR, Gladue BA, Hatch JP, Doering CH, Weiler SJ (1987). Endocrine, psychological and genital response to sexual arousal in men. Psychoneuroendocrinology 12 (2): 149–58.
  14. Roney JR, Mahler SV, Maestripieri D (2003). Behavioral and hormonal responses of men to brief interactions with women. Evolution and Human Behavior 24 (6): 365–375.
  15. Miller SL, Maner JK (February 2010). Scent of a woman: men's testosterone responses to olfactory ovulation cues. Psychol Sci 21 (2): 276–83.
  16. Gangestead SW, Thornhill R, Garver-Apgar CE (2005). Adaptations to Ovulation: Implications for Sexual and Social Behavior. Current Directions in Psychological Science 14 (6): 312–316.
  17. Alexander GM, Sherwin BB (September 1991). The association between testosterone, sexual arousal, and selective attention for erotic stimuli in men. Horm Behav 25 (3): 367–81.
  18. Hart BL (December 1983). Role of testosterone secretion and penile reflexes in sexual behavior and sperm competition in male rats: a theoretical contribution. Physiol. Behav. 31 (6): 823–7.
  19. Traish AM, Kim N, Min K, Munarriz R, Goldstein I (April 2002). Role of androgens in female genital sexual arousal: receptor expression, structure, and function. Fertil. Steril. 77 Suppl 4: S11–8.
  20. van Anders SM, Hamilton LD, Schmidt N, Watson NV (April 2007). Associations between testosterone secretion and sexual activity in women. Horm Behav 51 (4): 477–82.
  21. Goldey KL, van Anders SM (May 2011). Sexy thoughts: effects of sexual cognitions on testosterone, cortisol, and arousal in women. Horm Behav 59 (5): 754–64.
  22. Tuiten A, Van Honk J, Koppeschaar H, Bernaards C, Thijssen J, Verbaten R (February 2000). Time course of effects of testosterone administration on sexual arousal in women. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 57 (2): 149–53; discussion 155–6.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Bolour S, Braunstein G (2005). Testosterone therapy in women: a review. Int. J. Impot. Res. 17 (5): 399–408.
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