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Wednesday, 9 October, 2002, 18:02 GMT 19:02 UK
Would-be dads' hormone boost
Men detailed their sexual encounters
Men detailed their sexual encounters
Wanting to be a dad can be enough to help conception, researchers say.

They found testosterone levels surged when men were trying for a baby.

The research in New Scientist magazine looked to see if there was any link between men's testosterone levels and their sexual behaviour.

Scientists at the Institute of Applied Psychology in Lisbon, Portugal, led by Katherine Hirschenhauser, asked 27 men to measure the testosterone in their saliva every morning for 90 days.


Males can be responsive to their partners, but only if they want to be

Katherine Hirschenhauser, Institute of Applied Psychology

The men were also asked to record their sex lives in intimate detail, including the "intensity" of each encounter, whether or not it was with their regular partner.

In all the men tested, researchers saw peaks and troughs in testosterone levels.

But in those men who were trying for a baby, peaks in testosterone levels coincided far more often with periods of intense sexual activity.

Synchronised cycles

This makes biological sense, as rises in testosterone also trigger hormonal changes which increase the production of sperm, making conception more likely.

Katherine Hirschenhauser, an expert in sex hormones, suggests men can subconsciously influence their hormone levels.

"Males can be responsive to their partners, but only if they want to be."

But it may not simply be that men who want to become fathers have sex when their testosterone levels are high.

Other researchers say the explanation could be connected with the previous findings that women are more receptive to sex around the time of ovulation - and that women who live together have their periods at the same time - thought to be due to pheromones.

Jim Pfaus, an expert in sexual neurobiology at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada suggests men hoping to be fathers respond to their partner's pheromones and synchronise their testosterone levels to the mid point of their partner's cycle, the time when they are most likely to conceive.

The research has also been published in the journal Hormones and Behaviour.

See also:

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