Testosterone is a male sex hormone required for the development of male reproductive organs and the emergence of secondary male sexual characteristics such as facial hair, a deeper voice and muscles. Though testosterone is also produced in women, 20 times less than in men, testosterone is often loosely understood as what makes men “manly.”
When you think of a man with higher testosterone levels, thoughts of not-so-rosy risky behaviours are often conjured up. According to a 1999 study published in the Journal of Behavioural Medicine, men with very high testosterone levels (1,000 nanograms), were more likely to engage in risky behaviour such as being involved in criminal activity, being antisocial, get in trouble in school, remain single, less compromising, and be unemployed.
But, this doesn’t mean that all men with high testosterone levels are doomed for socially unacceptable risky behaviours and have distinct personality characteristics that we don’t see in the majority of the population. Researchers have also found many positives associated with slightly above average levels of testosterone, namely, less likely to have high blood pressure, less likely to be obese and even higher IQ.
The newest finding published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine shows that the more testosterone a man may have the greater the chance of them practicing safe sex.
In the March 2012 study, higher testosterone was positively linked with safer sex attitudes, especially those most closely tied to sexually transmitted infections (STI).
So, “manly” men are choosing safer sex. Who said safe sex wasn’t cool?
Survival of the Fittest
Supporters of the evolutionary theory and natural selection may see this new finding of higher testosterone being linked to safer sex, as men becoming better adapted for the modern environment, where out of instinct, men are protecting themselves from the greater prevalence of STIs.
Does this mean choosing to practice safer sex is more manly? Perhaps being more “manly” isn’t such a bad thing after all. Do you think practicing safer sex is the manly choice?
Van Anders SM, Goldey KL, Conley TD, Snipes DJ, and Patel DA. Safer sex as the bolder choice: Testosterone is positively correlated with safer sex behaviorally relevant attitudes in young men. J Sex Med 2012;9:727–734.