Hormonal Changes in Expectant Fathers

New research suggests that fathers-to-be experience declines in certain hormones when their partners are expecting a baby.

Hormonal changes are expected in pregnant women. But scientists from University of Michigan wanted to take a closer look at what changes men go through during their partner’s pregnancy.


Fathers-to-be experience declines in certain hormones when their partners are expecting a baby. (Click to tweet)


They took saliva samples from 29 couples who were expecting their first baby. The samples were collected at four different intervals, roughly at 12, 20, 28, and 36 weeks of pregnancy.

Specifically, they looked at the levels of four hormones: testosterone, estradiol, progesterone, and cortisol.

Testosterone is typically considered a male hormone, as it gives men their masculine characteristics. But women’s bodies produce it in smaller amounts.

Similarly, estradiol and progesterone are often classified as women’s hormones, but men’s bodies also make them.

Cortisol is a hormone associated with stress.

The researchers expected the women to have increased levels of all four hormones, which they did.

However, the men saw their levels of testosterone and estradiol decrease. (Levels of progesterone and cortisol did not change significantly.)

While noticeable, the drops in testosterone were not enough for the men to be diagnosed with low testosterone.

The scientists were not sure why, exactly, testosterone and estradiol levels dropped in the men. Future research may explore this further.

The study was first published online in December in the American Journal of Human Biology.


American Journal of Human Biology

Edelstein, Robin S., et al.

“Prenatal hormones in first-time expectant parents: Longitudinal changes and within-couple correlations”

(Abstract. First published online: December 15, 2014)



Doheny, Kathleen

“Expectant Dads May Also Have Hormonal Changes, Study Suggests”

(December 17, 2014)


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