Testosterone and sexual behavior in oral contraceptive users and nonusers: a prospective study. Academic Article uri icon


  • The relationship between plasma testosterone (T) secretion and patterns of sexual behavior was examined in 18 women using oral contraceptives (OCs) and 13 nonusers matched for partner availability. Retrospective assessments of perimenstrual symptoms, sexual attitudes, and sexual experience were obtained and women completed daily ratings of the frequency of sexual activities and the level of well-being for 1 month. Plasma levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), progesterone, Total T, Free T, and non-SHBG bound T were determined by radioimmunoassay at four phases of the pill or menstrual cycle. Overall, women not using OCs had higher plasma levels of Total, Free, and non-SHBG bound T and lower plasma levels of SHBG than those of OC users. Further, only nonusers had perimenstrual decreases in plasma levels of Total and Free T. The two groups were comparable on most retrospective measures. However, OC users reported more satisfaction with their sexual partners than did nonusers and prospective monitoring revealed that they engaged in sexual interactions more frequently than did nonusers across the cycle. In contrast, both groups reported a similar frequency of autosexual activities across the cycle. There were no correlations between average levels of T and levels of sexual desire, sexual interactions, or autosexuality. Moreover, only nonusers reported a decrease in levels of sexual desire during the perimenstrual period that was associated with the changes in Free T over the menstrual cycle.

published proceedings

  • Horm Behav

altmetric score

  • 6

author list (cited authors)

  • Alexander, G. M., Sherwin, B. B., Bancroft, J., & Davidson, D. W

citation count

  • 72

complete list of authors

  • Alexander, GM||Sherwin, BB||Bancroft, J||Davidson, DW

publication date

  • September 1990