Seasonal variation of salivary testosterone in men, normally cycling women, and women using hormonal contraceptives

Physiol Behav. 2011 Oct 24;104(5):804-8. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2011.07.009. Epub 2011 Jul 23.


Humans' endogenous testosterone concentrations vary over a number of temporal scales, with little known about variation longer than monthly cycles. Past studies of seasonal or circannual variation have principally used male participants and have produced inconsistent results. Thus, little is known about how testosterone concentrations fluctuate throughout the year, whether such variation differs between men and women, and whether there are influences of hormonal contraceptive use. The present study collected saliva samples from a large sample (N=718) of men and women, each collected at one time point within a relatively uniform distribution over a full calendar year. Both men and normally-cycling women displayed seasonal variation in salivary testosterone concentrations, such that testosterone concentrations are maximal in the fall and minimal in the summer. Notably, normally-cycling women had testosterone concentrations that were over 100% greater at their maximum in fall compared to their minimum in summer. Women using hormonal contraceptives not only had consistently lower endogenous testosterone concentrations, but also showed a flatter seasonal testosterone profile. The implications for studies of psychology and human behavioral endocrinology are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Saliva / drug effects*
  • Saliva / metabolism*
  • Seasons*
  • Testosterone / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal
  • Testosterone