Are Sex Hormones Biomarkers of Sexual Function in Later Life?
Stacy T. Lindau, University of Chicago
Natalia S. Gavrilova, University of Chicago
The relationship between sex hormone physiology and sexual function in older men and women is complex and, based primarily on small clinical or laboratory studies, it is only partially understood. The National Social Life, Health and Aging Project data including salivary sex hormone measures for 3,005 respondents were used to explore the associations between endogenous sex hormone levels with global self-reported health and characteristics of sexual performance. In multivariate analyses, sex hormone concentrations were differently associated with physical and sexual health. In men, high androgen concentrations were positively associated with self-reported health, but high testosterone levels were associated with reported erectile problems, anxiety about sexual performance and complex sexual morbidity. Women with high estrogen levels were less likely to report excellent health but were also less likely to report sexual problems. The study revealed significant correlations between sex hormone levels and the role of progesterone in sexuality of both genders.