Testosterone and women’s behavior – highlights of my bachelor thesis


     These are the most interesting findings I gathered in my bachelor essay. It was a literature research, no own experiments. I cite the results that came out in many experiments, so we can say, they can be treated like the rules.



      1. Women have approximately 7 times lower testosterone levels than men. The woman has an average of 15 picograms (pg) of testosterone in milliliter (ml) of saliva. Men have an average testosterone level of 100 picograms in ml of saliva. Davison, Davis (2015) HORM BEHAV


      2. In women, testosterone is produced by ovarian follicles and the adrenal cortex. A woman has a highest testosterone level around her 20 years of age. Then the secretion decreases proportionally with the life cycle of ovarian follicles. After menopause, when the follicles completely disappear, testosterone secretion from the ovaries terminated. Afterwards, the secretion of testosterone is just from adrenal cortex. Davison, Davis (2015) HORM BEHAV


During menopause, women are advised to take Tribulus terrestris herb, that stabilizes the fluctuations in testosterone level.


Woman’s testosterone level during life. The highest testosterone level appears in womens 20 years age, then it embodies a gradual decline. After menopause, there is just synthesis from the adrenal glands remaining.


      3. Testosterone is excreted during sleep and its level reaches the peak values in the morning after awakening. Then the level gradually decreases with the lowest values ​​before bedtime. 

      Testosterone level is affected by sleeping. A group of men, who did not sleep, had the next morning a 27% lower testosterone level than the morning of the previous day. Also, men who reported sleeping less than 8 hours a day had lower testosterone level than men who slept more. Cote et al. (2013) BIOL PSYCHOL


Black = men who did not sleep. White = men who slept. The men who did not sleep had lower testosterone levels in the morning than those who slept.


      4. The effect of testosterone on behavior is described by Challenge hypothesis. According to the hypothesis, testosterone encourages aggressive behavior that can be applied by individual in fight for sexual partner, territory, or battles for hierarchy.

      Also, dominant individuals should have a higher testosterone level than the more submissive ones. This is related to the winner-loser effect. Winners should show higher levels of testosterone than losers after match, which will encourage the winner to fight for other hierarchy positions, territories, partners, etc. Losers, on the contrary, show a drop in testosterone levels, so they want to compete no more and do not want to risk another loss of position or injury. Archer (2006) NEUROSCI BIOBEHAV R


      5. A very clear example of testosterone effects on human behavior was provided in 1930s by treatment of a three-year-old boy, who had tumor. Doctors tried to cure the tumor with doses of testosterone, which was without a curative effect, but the personality of the boy changed dramatically. He became abnormally sexual, gained a dominant position over all children in the ward, and was very aggressive and defiant. After treatment, his behavior returned to normal. Yildirim, Derksen (2012) PSYCHIAT RES


      6. Women which had higher levels of testosterone, rated themselves as the dominant personality. Women with lower testosterone levels tend to rate themselves as the submissive personalities. In a personality test with adjectives, women with higher testosterone level rated themselves more often as „action“, „inventive“ and „self-assertive“. Lower testosterone level women, on the contrary, rated themselves as „caring,“ „quiet,“ and „temperance“. Grant (2008) EVOL PSYCHOL


      7. The winner-loser effect was observed in an experiment, where female students had to play a highly competitive computer game. They were seated against each other, and the results were continually reported to them to support their competitive mood. The winners showed a progressive increase in testosterone levels during the competition, while the levels remained unchanged for the losers.

      Women, who won, were also more motivated to win just before the competition than women, who subsequently lost. Costová, Salvadorová (2012) PSYCHONEUROENDOCRINO


Data for testosterone on the left. Full line = winners. Interrupted line = Losers. The winners showed a gradually increasing testosterone level during the competition. Losers showed rather unchanged levels of testosterone during the competition. On the right is the cortisol level. Winners had a lower level of cortisol, which is a hormone, that helps to cope stressful situations.


      8. If an individual did not believe or did not have the motivation to win, his testosterone level did not increase during a competition or match. The testosterone level was also increased by the winning gestures and dominant attitudes of individuals. Chichinadze, Lazaraschvili (2012) J. COMP PHYSIOL


      9. Experimental couples had sexual activity for 2 weeks and 2 weeks no sexual activity. In both sexes, higher levels of testosterone were observed during the mating period than in the rest period. Archer (2006) NEUROSCI BIOBEHAV R


      10. 3005 respondents aged 57 – 85 were questioned about their life expectancy of sexual partners. It has been shown that people with higher levels of testosterone reported significantly more sexual partners than people with lower levels. Archer (2006) NEUROSCI BIOBEHAV R


      11. „Polyamorous“ is a type of relationship where an individual maintains more non-committal romantic relationships at a time. The women who said they were polyamorous had the highest testosterone level of all tested women. It was equally low for single women, in relationship and for women living in Mormon polygamy.

      The authors suggest that polyamorous women have higher testosterone levels because their body has been attuned to the nonstop mating season. Or it is possible, which does not preclude the previous fact, that these women have naturally high levels of testosterone and therefore seek more opportunities for mating than women with low testosterone levels. Van Anders et al. (2007) HORM BEHAV

On the left men. On the right women. Polaymorous women had significantly higher testosterone levels than single, in relationship and women in polygamy.


A = normally menstruating women testosterone. B = normally mens. women cortisol. C = women with contraceptives testosterone. D = women with contraceptives cortisol. Normally menstruating women had a significantly higher hormonal response to video with an attractive male than women who use hormonal contraception. The additional videos were just control.
A = normally menstruating women testosterone. B = normally mens. women cortisol. C = women with contraceptives testosterone. D = women with contraceptives cortisol. Normally menstruating women had a significantly higher hormonal response to video with an attractive male than women who use hormonal contraception. The additional videos were just control.

      Hormonal contraception can subsequently influence a woman’s choice of partner. Normally menstrual women tend to choose more masculine types of men during ovulation, when testosterone levels are highest. On the contrary, during menstruation women tend to choose men with more female characters. No significant change in preference was recorded for contraceptive women. Bobst et al. (2014) PSYCHONEUROENDOCRINO

Testosterone level during menstruation. During ovulation is the highest. Dougherty 1997 PHYSIOL BEHAV


      Laical summary: Testosterone affects not only men but also women. Those women, who have higher testosterone level, can manifest themselves more dominantly, have a greater desire to winning and achieving higher positions and may have a greater sexual desire. 🙂




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