Testosterone vs parenting
Testosterone vs parenting: Relationship status, fatherhood, and how invested men are in taking care of their children, all have significant impact on their testosterone levels. An extensive scientific study shows chances of getting married and having a child are higher for those with higher T levels. However, the levels drop right after fatherhood before returning to normal.
Testosterone levels peak around the age of 25 before starting to decline. It is highly dependent on age, sleep cycle, weight and other health conditions. However, did you know being a father, and how much you are involved in childcare, affect testosterone levels?
One study carried out in more than 600 men in Philippines showed testosterone levels dipped in dads and more so for those actively involved in their child’s care. That’s a strong motivation for dads to get out and spend time in the gym to compensate for nature’s way of lowering testosterone levels.
This study also shows that more men with higher testosterone levels ended up marrying and having a baby. That may be because men with higher testosterone levels are likely to have stronger muscles, better health, and ‘manly’–features that are more attractive in finding a partner. However, one of the biggest surprise of this study is that after they got married, testosterone levels significantly declined compared to those who stayed single. The levels declined even more for those ended up being father. And fathers who spent longer hours caring for babies had the lowest testosterone levels.
This isn’t first time such an observation has been made. One study of US Army veterans showed testosterone levels in married men were lower than unmarried veterans. Another study from Beijing, China found that married fathers had lower testosterone levels than nonfathers and unmarried men.
Hormones and behavior go hand in hand, and influence each other. Just take the example of public speaking. Right before the speech you will see a spike in cortisol and adrenal hormones, a classic case of our body in fight or flight mode. Another good example is the change in behavior during puberty when hormones (e.g., testosterone) start to rise. Data from a study of US Air Force veterans showed the testosterone levels increased around the time of divorce.
This behavior is not just limited to humans or primates. In fact, studies from birds (dark eyed juncos from North America) suggest that male testosterone levels increase during male-male competition and courtship, but are found to be lower during long-term relationships and paternal care.
This brings us to two main conclusions. First, a testosterone test should consider partnership status, fatherhood, and time invested in paternal care. Next time you see a status change of a friend on your favorite social media, it might be worth looking for these subtle physiological factors. The second part is even more important and remains unanswered: what’s the impact of men taking testosterone gel or patch on forming partnership and paternal relationship?
The figure above shows drop in testosterone levels for fathers at different time periods.
In new fathers, the highest decline in Testosterone levels are in first few months:
- Data taken for 624 men with an average age of 26 +/-0.3 yrs old in 2009 (& previously followed in 2005 to collect testosterone levels before they became partners or fathers)
- Saliva sample collection: Around 10:15 pm & next sample at 6:30 am; for reference, the testosterone levels from single to married fathers dropped in morning samples from 207 pg/ml to 153 pg/ml and in evening samples from 125 pg/ml to 84 pg/ml
- Men with partnered fathers showed decline of 26% in morning & 34% in evening testosterone compared to normal age related decline of 12% in morning & 14% in evening (between 2004 & 2009); newly partnered but didn’t father showed decline of 10% in morning & 32% in evening
- Testing was done using saliva sample, similar to an at-home testosterone test kit that you can purchase from RxHomeTest.com
- Longitudinal evidence that fatherhood decreases testosterone in human males by Lee T. Gettler et al, PNAS 2011 Sep, 108 (39) 16194: http://www.pnas.org/content/108/39/16194
- The descent of a man’s testosterone (and links therein) by Peter B. Gray, PNAS 2011 Sep, 108 (39) 16141: http://www.pnas.org/content/108/39/16141
Disclaimer: For information purposes only, not to be used for diagnosis or replace advice from a medical professional. An at-home testosterone test can be ordered here. Information on other health tests can be found here. You can order a CLIA-certified at-home health test from www.RxHomeTest.com anytime for free shipping and physician approved reports.