Hormones, sexuality and fertility in women



The extent to which the sexuality of women shows a predictable menstrual cyclicity varies considerably from woman to woman, though the most common times for peaks of sexual interest are the pre- and post-menstrual weeks, not the middle of the cycle. Evidence is presented suggesting that mood is an important determinant of the post-menstrual peak of sexuality, whereas the pre-menstrual peak may depend on other mechanisms such as a delayed effect of the mid-cycle rise in testosterone.

Generally, the evidence for a relationship between hormones and sexual behaviour is much more variable and inconsistent in women than in men. Various explanations for this difference have been proposed, including a greater genetic variability of hormone-behaviour relationships in women. Evidence, relevant to this hypothesis, of a relationship between frequency of sexual activity and the fertility of the ovarian cycle is reviewed and alternative explanations for the findings are considered.