The Hormones of Relationship: Testosterone & Oxytocin

Women need to understand that men require “cave time” to wind down when they come home and flop down on the couch in front of the TV or read the paper. That is how they replenish their testosterone, and disturbing them too soon will not allow them to adequately restore their hormone levels.

When a man’s testosterone level is adequate, he is able to be the “emergency man” in urgent situations where he needs to focus keenly, step up and solve a problem. In fact, solving problems is so satisfying that it may cause some men’s testosterone levels to actually rise, while stress hormones like cortisol decrease.

For women, a release of oxytocin makes them feel safe and protected. They become more nurturing and cooperative. This nurturing, coupled with feelings of being nurtured, further raises oxytocin levels. Small amounts of testosterone will also help women feel more energetic, sexy and capable.

Stress & the Sexes

When trying to reduce or deal with stress, men release testosterone and women release oxytocin (a pituitary hormone). Ironically, high cortisol levels can interfere with the normal production of both testosterone and oxytocin, hampering both men and women from their attempts at stress reduction.

On the other hand, oxytocin doesn’t help men deal with stress and can even bring their testosterone levels down. Oxytocin is the hormone that rises in women and men after sexual orgasm and makes them sleepy.

Estrogen and progesterone are commonly thought of as women’s hormones, however, many are surprised to learn that testosterone is also a female hormone. Replacing testosterone in menopausal women has been shown in research studies to increase energy, libido and sense of well-being.

When men get home and head to their “man cave” (or do whatever they prefer for relaxation), their stress levels drop. When women get home from work, their stress levels often rise even further as they face the pressures of all the things that need to be done at home (dinner, laundry, childcare, homework, etc.). They can’t understand how men can just sit on the couch or read the paper when there is so much to do.

Studies show that stress levels of cortisol while at work are twice as high for women as they are for men, and that difference typically becomes even greater when they get home. This may be related to their husbands on the couch.

Men don’t understand why women get so upset, and they don’t even typically notice the things that need to be done without being told. In fact, men will frequently procrastinate about doing things until they get a sense of danger or risk, which triggers their testosterone levels, giving them even greater stress relief. Women tend to plan ahead, which stimulates oxytocin release, making them feel considerate and caring, which triggers even more oxytocin.

Happiness, moods and libido are also related to neurotransmitter imbalances. If dopamine, nor-epinephrine and epinephrine are low, libido decreases. These neurotransmitters can be tested and balanced with targeted effective nutrients. Relationships are better if the sex hormones and neurotransmitters are balanced. Additional options also exist to increase libido, like scream crème for women.

Men need sex for stress relief. Women need stress relief for sex. My research shows that men that help women with children and housework have more sex.

With such polar primal hormonal responses and feelings, it is little wonder that men and women have trouble understanding one another! As balanced hormones play such a big part in increased well-being, consider getting your hormone levels checked, in the name of love.

Dr. Sharon Norling practices Advanced Functional Medicine in Westlake Village. For more information, call 818.707.9355 or visit