Testosterone levels and stress in women: the role of stress coping strategies, anxiety and sex role identification

Anthropol Anz. 2004 Sep;62(3):311-21.


This study evaluated the relation between testosterone changes in response to anticipatory stress and several psychological variables that contribute to the stress reaction. Salivary testosterone was determined in 76 female students under stress-free conditions and before an important examination. Individual stress reactions were highly variable in direction and extent: both significant increases and decreases were found. Thus the data did not confirm previous findings of general increases in testosterone levels under stress in women. Depending on the women's level of trait anxiety (assessed via STAI) and the general use of positive or negative cognitive coping strategies (assessed via SVF), we found significant differences in their baseline testosterone levels. Individual endocrine changes under stress were correlated with baseline testosterone levels: High testosterone concentrations at rest were more likely to drop under anticipatory stress than low concentrations. These contrasting effects can be explained by the significant interaction of trait anxiety and the sex role dimension of masculinity (assessed via BSRI) with testosterone production in females.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / blood
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Personality Inventory
  • Reference Values
  • Stress, Psychological / blood*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Testosterone / blood*


  • Testosterone