Hormones and Gender Differences

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Attempting to understand the role of hormones in creating gender differences in behaviour, scientists have singled out
testosterone and oestrogen as the 'culprits' for gender-specific behavioural traits, ranging from sexual impulses to aggressive and competitive natures. 


A study carried out by psychologists at the University of Michigan found that high levels of oestrogen in a woman may be the female equivalent of testesterone, giving women a 'dominance' boost.

"Women have long been overlooked in biological research on dominance," said psychology researcher Steven Stanton. "However, estrogen is very behaviorally potent and is actually a close hormonal relative to testosterone. In female mammals, estrogen has been tied to dominance, but there has been scant research examining the behavioral roles of estrogen in women."

The study measured women's power needs and then assessed salivary estrogen levels both before and after they entered a one-on-one dominance contest. The researchers found that even before women got involved in the contest, higher power motivation was associated with higher levels of estrogen. In contrast, power-motivated losers showed a post-contest decrease in estrogen. These effects were not observed among women who did not possess a strong need for power.


The Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has shown that testosterone can have both a physiological and a psychological impact on women's sexuality.
The dissertation demonstrates that women who received a combination treatment of estrogen and testosterone for 6 months experienced a significant improvement in certain aspects of their sexual function. The work also shows that endogenous testosterone plays a role in sexual desire, arousal, and satisfaction. A testosterone supplement increased women's interest and joy in sex and their satisfaction with the extent of their sex life.

The studies show further that supplemental testosterone has a beneficial effect on musculature and bone metabolism. On the other hand, a certain negative effect was observed on blood fats. Side effects in the form of hair growth and acne were rare.

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