T. N Shirazi, H. Self, K. Dawood, K. A Rosenfield, L. Penke, J. M Carré, T. Ortiz, and D. A Puts (2019)

Hormonal predictors of women's sexual motivation

Evolution and Human Behavior, 40:336 - 344.

Women's mating psychology may have evolved to track reproductive conditions, including conception risk, across and between ovulatory cycles. Alternatively, within-woman correlations between mating psychology and ovarian hormones may be byproducts of between-women relationships. Here, we examined associations between steroid hormones and two facets of sexual psychology with putatively different adaptive functions, sociosexual orientation and general sexual desire, in a sample of naturally cycling women (NC; n = 348, 87 of whom completed 2 sessions) and hormonally contracepting women (HC; n = 266, 65 of whom completed 2 sessions). Across two sessions, increases in estradiol predicted elevated sociosexual desire in NC women, and this relationship was stronger in women whose progesterone simultaneously decreased across sessions. Changes in hormones were not associated with changes in general sexual desire. Between-subjects differences in testosterone robustly, positively predicted sociosexuality and general sexual desire among NC women. Hormones were not consistently related to changes or differences in sexual psychology among HC women. The present results are consistent with testosterone contributing to individual differences, or modulating relatively long-term changes, in women's mating psychology. Further, our within-woman findings are consistent with the hypothesis that shifts in women's mating psychology may function to secure genetic benefits, and that these shifts are not byproducts of between-women associations.