How fathers influence their sons’ testosterone balance

When men become fathers, their testosterone levels drop. A low androgen level is associated with more caring and household chores. A research group led by Lee Gettler from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana reports how much the new role influences the hormone balance also seems to be related to the relationship with one’s own father: New fathers have a low testosterone level, especially when they already have own father was instrumental in raising the children. Puberty plays a very special role in this.

The anthropologists analyzed the data of almost 1,000 men in the Philippines who were recorded between 1983 and 2014. The study focused primarily on the infancy, middle childhood (6 to 11 years) and adolescence (12 to 19 years) of the subjects: to what extent were the fathers of the participants involved in their upbringing at this point in time? Did you live with your family at the time? With the help of saliva samples, they also determined the test subjects’ testosterone concentration – and then compared the values ​​of the participants, who in the meantime had had children themselves.

The result: If the men had experienced a father in their youth who had actively looked after them, their own testosterone levels were lower when they later became fathers themselves. However, how much her father was involved in infancy and childhood played no role in relation to androgen levels.

The authors suspect that social influences, especially during adolescence and puberty, change the hypothalamus-pituitary axis, which regulates testosterone production. “To me, this shows how parenting, and fatherhood in particular, can have lasting effects across generations, not just through behavior but also through biology,” says Lee Gettler.

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