June 2, 2009

Married men and testosterone.

Harvard Magazine reports:
[Peter B.] Gray studied testosterone in saliva collected from 58 men (48 of them Harvard students) between the ages of 20 and 41. Half were married, and of those, 15 were married with children. He took four saliva samples from each man: two in the morning and two in the evening. The subjects also completed questionnaires about their demographic, marital, and parenting backgrounds. Among other things, the questionnaires asked how much time the men spent with their spouses (instead of hanging out with the guys) on their last day off from work, and measured the effort they expended caring for their children. Analysis showed that marriage, fatherhood, and longer periods spent with wives and children were all linked to lower testosterone levels. Fathers in particular had levels significantly lower than those of unmarried men. Researchers also observed that hormone levels in the morning samples were high and relatively even among the men; the differences appeared at night.
This is all very interesting, but let me extract one very useful piece of advice: Marrieds should not make bed time their primary time for having sex. Quite aside from the fact that you're tired, if this study holds true, the man is likely to have lower testosterone.

50 comments:

Tom said...

That's right. Be sensible and get it on the the morning. Sets you up forthe rest of the day. ...

traditionalguy said...

So marriage and fatherhood reorient the aggressive males hormone level. Can that be so bad? Staying home rather than roaming to catch prey and fight other prey-catcher rivals is a plus for enjoying a long life. Could it also be that age 17 to 21 single men might make the best warriors? Traditional wisdom seems to still be true.

Pogo said...

From the vantage point of modern society, what if any benefit has marriage for the male?

Better, why get married at all?

Pogo said...

Hey guys, if you get married, you can lower your testosterone and uh, other great stuff!

traditionalguy said...

Pogo...Find a good and intelligent woman who commits not to leave you for a better offer, and then you will answer your own question.

Ann Althouse said...

"Can that be so bad?"

Not if you remember to have sex in the morning.

Fred4Pres said...

Is it okay to just lock the bedroom door and turn up the Barry White in the morning...the kids can get ready on their own...

I have to go now. It is a medical condition and there is only one cure.

Fred4Pres said...

Oh, don't forget to brush your teeth first. Morning breath can ruin the mood.

traditionalguy said...

Secret for married men over 60 is that you can get a Testosterone Cream Rx and rub on daily, in the PM to get ready for the AM, or whenever. It also make weight lifting much easier.

goesh said...

-yeh, maybe not so practical humping in the morning what with bad breath and the kids needing breakfast and the family dog needing to poop on the neighbor's lawn

Ann Althouse said...

"-yeh, maybe not so practical humping in the morning what with bad breath and the kids needing breakfast and the family dog needing to poop on the neighbor's lawn"

This may be the real reason that having kids ruins your sex life. You are forced to make bed time sex time because it's the only time available.

As for the dog: Don't get a dog.

As for the breath: Come on. Get up and brush your teeth and get back in bed. It's not that difficult.

ricpic said...

Marriage Material

Hard in the morning,
Limp at night --
An early riser
Is fit to be tied.

mcg said...

I prefer the night because the sleepiness that follows can be immediately indulged.

Pogo said...

"Find a good and intelligent woman who commits not to leave you for a better offer, and then you will answer your own question."


But why get married?
I'm married. I am beginning to see that young men have little if any reason to do so now, however, and I have no contrary answer for them.

What's it for, save to reduce your chances for timely copulation?

AllenS said...

Early to bed,
early to rise,
makes a man come up with a surprise.

If not, there's always Viagra.

Aaron said...

i think there is an essential causation issue. Are married men losing their testosterone? Or are low-testosterone males more likely to marry? Or are women preferring men with lower testosterone levels? Hard to say.

goesh said...

- it could lead to hen-pecking on the part of the woman this morning intercourse stuff, no prolonged foreplay, not much cuddling afterwards - from orgasm to preparing a bowl of gruel for the kids, not an appealing thought

bagoh20 said...

I'm looking for a woman who WILL commit to leave me. Such commitment would get me up early in the morning and at night.

traditionalguy said...

Ann's perfect timing rules: Go to bed early and sleep until 7:00 AM, and then have a good breakfast, and then take a short nap, and then at 9:00 AM strip and love on each other until it is time for the 10:30 nap. Repeat whenever possible, like when on vacations. Or just be creative.

Bissage said...

Surely these scientists know enough to adjust for alcohol consumption.

Jen said...

I don't know that testosterone level differences on this scale have anything to do with, um, performance.

rhhardin said...

Testosterone goes down in men after defeats, is why it's low in married men at the end of the day.

An apparently sexually available female raises it again.

That's the lesson from John Tierney.

amugofcoffee said...

- it could lead to hen-pecking on the part of the woman this morning intercourse stuff, no prolonged foreplay, not much cuddling afterwards - from orgasm to preparing a bowl of gruel for the kids, not an appealing thought
Sounds good to me, and I'm a woman. Maybe I have high testosterone levels?

Joan said...

So what are the implications of reduced testosterone? Do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks? And how does this study compare to those surveys which reveal that married men have a lot more sex than unmarried men?

I have a problem with the sample size and selection. Maybe being a married, middle-aged Harvard student takes the piss out of you, so to speak.

Fred4Pres said...

This may be the real reason that having kids ruins your sex life. You are forced to make bed time sex time because it's the only time availableI would change the word "may" with "is".

Dust Bunny Queen said...

This may be the real reason that having kids ruins your sex life. You are forced to make bed time sex time because it's the only time available

There is always meeting at home during the day. Nooner!! Makes the rest of the work day much nicer.

As to Pogo. Why marry? Maybe it is my older perspective but it seems to me that marriage should be, in addition to love and sex, but probably more importantly a long lasting partnership and friendship. I consider my husband my best friend, the main person in the world who I can lean on for support and comfort,

Who I trust completely

Who has my back

Who will defend my person, my honor and my character

Who I can laugh with, share inside jokes, enjoy peaceful times, share a cocktail on the deck, read books together, listen to music or just sit in silence.

Who accepts my faults and admires my qualities (such as they are)

Who also accepts that as we age we change, physically and mentally and still find each other sexily attractive despite it all.

We are a team.

I know he feels the same about me. I'm sorry that young guys don't seem to be able to find this and see no value in getting married. Maybe it's youth? Maybe it is the changing culture where people are told to expect perfection? In any case it is a shame, because a good marriage is heaven on earth.

Pogo said...

I agree, DBQ. I raise the question because currently all the discussion pushes men further and further away from it.

Marriage is becoming uncommon among black men, and I suspect it will become thus among white males as well. "In 2001, according to the U.S. Census, 43.3 percent of black men and 41.9 percent of black women in America had never been married, in contrast to 27.4 percent and 20.7 percent respectively for whites." WaPo 2006. Because, the young man said, "Marriage Is for White people". But that will soon change.

Measuring testosterone levels among married-not married is fiddling while Rome burns.

Ann Althouse said...

@DBQ Yes, "nooners," but also late-afternooner and early-afternooners, and early evening or midmorning... but never at dusk*!

And also yes about being older. Marriage when you are younger has a lot to do with establishing your career and producing children. The elements of older marriage are different and the proportions are different. For one thing, I'm going to do this for the rest of my life refers to a shorter period, and it's a period that is more conspicuously, as the Onion once put it, "pre-death."

___

*Allusion.

Elliott A said...

I'm not certain that there are other hormonal rythyms which are more important in time of day sexual performance and desire, although it is likely, assuming the male in question has normal testosterone levels in general. The nervous system also plays a large part in sexual desire/performance. The sympathetic nervous system which gets you excited with adrenaline inhibits sexual function. This is counterintuitive to what most non-medical people would expect. Sex requires your full attention!

traditionalguy said...

Pogo ...a lady once told me the best way to keep a loyal woman in your life is to avoid hurting her sensitive feelings and safety needs with over-agressiveness, unless you apologise quickly and sincerely. Maybe that ties into these smart married men holding down their Testosterone levels for that very good reason.The day always comes when they will need mercy too. As to singlehood, like Bagoh 27 said, they often only want a women who will leave. That is why they are still single.They don't know any valuable women.

Elliott A said...

It is interesting that a relationship as DBQ describes and which I feel I have tends to decrease the physical attraction of others. It is just incumbent on the "old" married couple (32 years for me) to make sure they stay attractive to each other.

I can remember an older friend who told me twenty years ago that while youthful passion is fun and good, nothing compares to the time when your partner becomes your best possible best friend. He was my current age then and I now see that he was right.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Traditionalguy said: Secret for married men over 60 is that you can get a Testosterone Cream Rx and rub on daily, in the PM to get ready for the AM, or whenever. It also make weight lifting much easier.

That's some very good advice. Also get your thyroid level tested and if it's low, supplement it. The difference in how you will feel is nothing short of amazing.
______

DBQ - Exactly right, and thanks for your lovely comments!
______
Regarding when and how often---for cryin' out loud, stop making sex a calendar event. Just do it! And do it a lot and do it often. Remember your college days? Your horny 20s? Go back to that. Mornings, nooners, dinner interupptus, etc.

Being playful and happy doesn't stop until you force it to, so re-calibrate.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Marriage when you are younger has a lot to do with establishing your career and producing children. The elements of older marriage are different and the proportions are different

Quite so. Children, while they can be a blessing to a young marriage, can also be an incredible strain on the relationship.

I guess my current perspective on marriage is due to my more "mature" (lol) status and that there are no young children inconveniencing the ebb and flow (if you know what I mean). The focus is not on children and our careers are fairly established.

Another problem with marriage today is that we no longer have the extended families of yore. Previously the care of children was spread out amongst Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, many siblings etc. Now the full burden falls on the parents unless they can pay to off load the care of the children to babysitters or nannys.

chickenlittle said...

DBQ wrote:
There is always meeting at home during the day. Nooner!! Makes the rest of the work day much nicer.

LOL! but raise your hand if you even get to go home for lunch.

Althouse wrote:
Marriage when you are younger has a lot to do with establishing your career and producing children. The elements of older marriage are different and the proportions are different.

Thank you for making that excellent point. What I see around me are more younger couples deciding to forgo having kids at all, opting instead for pets. In a sense, they are skipping right to the end game stage.
For their sake, I hope that they live comfortably without the need for a next generation (or at least one that speaks their language).

Freeman Hunt said...

Get married, keep your hair?

Ralph said...

Since heart attacks are most common early in the morning, maybe the lower levels at night explains why married men live longer than single. That and their wives drag them to the doctor.

save_the_rustbelt said...

I was just telling my wife about morning sex and lunch sex and afternoon sex the other day, while chasing her around the kitchen table.

Apparently I did not get the lower testosterone memo.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think there is an essential causation issue. Are married men losing their testosterone? Or are low-testosterone males more likely to marry? Or are women preferring men with lower testosterone levels? Hard to say.

I would think not the later. It probably could be tested, but the former is more likely.

What must be remembered is that the married man is not having to compete for a mate, since he already has one. So, he doesn't need as much testosterone.

Also, his sperm production can be down for the same reasons - the sperm he has are more likely to result in offspring than those of the unmarried guy, and so needs fewer of them to do the same job.

Bruce Hayden said...

Since heart attacks are most common early in the morning, maybe the lower levels at night explains why married men live longer than single. That and their wives drag them to the doctor.

I think that you have something there. Males really need to be taken care of, because many of them/us typically don't that well themselves. And having someone nagging you to get exercise, take your vitamins, eat right, and see the doctor, is liable to be advantageous healthwise.

Iapetus said...

"What I see around me are more younger couples deciding to forgo having kids at all, opting instead for pets. --AA"

If by that you mean young university faculty couples, then that's a narrow and very selective group of people, wouldn't you say? Their immediate attention may be focused on the winning of tenure, and so the "distractions" of raising children without the security of a permanent position can be enervating.

But, after tenure, well, sex in the morning before a late class, again at noon, in the office, with a student, on the QT with a faculty colleague---all of those marvelous fringe benefits become available to the academic types who have the freedom and the possible inclination to take advantage of them.

kentuckyliz said...

Married men have more sex than single men, and are happier with their sex lives than single men.

I think their testosterone levels are lower because they're discharging more. Not getting a poisonous backup.

Young men don't want to get married? Don't they want to stick around and be a father (not just a babydaddy sperm donor)?

Men I know who father children actually want to be fathers. And be around. In their lives.

The young being hesitant to marry is probably partly because of being the latchkey kids of divorced parents when that wave started in the 70s.

Not wanting kids might be a result of just having a single mom who worked way too hard and struggled and wasn't happy.

Kids make you very economically vulnerable.

chickenlittle said...

If by that you mean young university faculty couples, then that's a narrow and very selective group of people, wouldn't you say?

That's actually not who I had in mind, but I've been there too. I was thinking my neighborhood, a suburban "bedroom" community.

bagoh20 said...

DBQ,

If a man thought he found what you describe in your marriage, I'm sure he would be in favor of taking the plunge too. It is very rare, despite the feeling by most people that they want just that. Wanting and making such a marriage apparently do not correlate. You are luckier or better at it than anyone I know. The vast majority of marriages I have known have been mostly unhappy - about the same rate as unhappy singles, maybe it changes nothing. Two happy people create a happy marriage I think. I also think that would create a whole better than the parts. Congratulations! It is a rare accomplishment.

El Presidente said...

If frequency is the criteria, unmarried living together is the way to go, single. . . not so much:

-Couples living together report having sex 146 times per year.
-Married couples make love 98 times per year.
-Single folks are having sex the least at 49 times a year.

Being an American - good, Japanese -bad:
-Americans 132 times a year
-Russians 122 times a year
-French 121
-Greeks 115
-Japan 37

No wonder American married men are so tired.

Is it me or has our hostess found a new hobby?

Ralph said...

the "distractions" of raising children without the security of a permanent position can be enervating.
Strangely, people without government or union jobs have managed to pull this off for some years.

Christy said...

The study has too many important variables not accounted for. Are the single guys who spend more time hanging with their pals playing basketball or drinking? Haven't earlier studies demonstrated that exercise has an influence on testosterone? Between making the grade at Harvard and dealing with family, I'd expect the married guy to have less time for exercise. But maybe the Harvard Man can do it all.

Congrats to those of you who've found satisfying marriages.

Kirk Parker said...

Fred4Pres,

"I have to go now. It is a medical condition..."

Ahh, the dreaded SRH, eh? (And kentuckyliz backs me up, heh.)


chickenlittle,

"LOL! but raise your hand if you even get to go home for lunch. "

What about if you work from home? "Sorry, boss, but that report is going to be late again..."


El Presidente,

That last question is not an either-or: our hostess has found a new hobby, and it's not you.

El Presidente said...

Hahahaha Kirk, definitely not me. But I have been to Ohio and I have a black dog.

Red said...

Agreed. Too much sex in the bed gets boring. Do it anywhere, or at least make the bed interesting. Do some erotic role-playing or something.

Melanie said...

If it gets out that Low Testosterone is a side effect of marriage and kids... there goes my chance for my boyfriend settling down!