Get access

Comparison of baseline free testosterone and cortisol concentrations between elite and non-elite female athletes

Authors

  • Christian J. Cook,

    1. United Kingdom Sports Council, London, United Kingdom
    2. Sport, Health and Exercise Science, Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom
    3. Hamlyn Centre, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom
    4. Health and Sport Portfolio, College of Engineering, Swansea University, Swansea, United Kingdom
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Blair T. Crewther,

    Corresponding author
    1. Hamlyn Centre, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom
    2. Health and Sport Portfolio, College of Engineering, Swansea University, Swansea, United Kingdom
    • Hamlyn Centre - Imperial College, South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ, United Kingdom
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Alan A. Smith

    1. United Kingdom Sports Council, London, United Kingdom
    2. Sport, Health and Exercise Science, Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Objectives:

To compare the baseline free testosterone (T) and cortisol (C) concentrations of elite and non-elite female athletes.

Methods:

Eighteen females from different sports (track and field, netball, cycling, swimming, bob skeleton) were monitored over a 12-week period. Baseline measures of salivary free T and C concentrations were taken weekly prior to any training. The elites (n = 9) and non-elites (n = 9) were classified as international and national level competitors, respectively, with both groups matched by sport.

Results:

The pooled free T concentrations of the elites (87 pg/ml) were significantly higher than the non-elites (41 pg/ml) and consistently so across all weekly time points (P < 0.001). Pooled free C concentrations were also greater in the elite group (2.90 ng/ml) than the non-elites (2.32 ng/ml) (P < 0.01).

Conclusions:

The pooled baseline T and C measures were higher in elite female athletes than non-elites. Higher free T and C concentrations could indicate a greater capacity for physical performance at higher work rates, which is commensurate with the demands of elite sport. Speculatively, the T differences observed could influence female behavior and thereby help to regulate sporting potential. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Ancillary