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Physiol Behav. 2010 Jan 12;99(1):8-16. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2009.10.001.

Salivary testosterone, cortisol, and progesterone: two-week stability, interhormone correlations, and effects of time of day, menstrual cycle, and oral contraceptive use on steroid hormone levels.

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Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station A8000, Austin, TX 78705, USA.


With salivary assessment of steroid hormones increasing, more work is needed to address fundamental properties of steroid hormone levels in humans. Using a test-retest design and radioimmunoassay assessment of salivary steroids, we tested the reliability of testosterone, cortisol, and progesterone levels across two weeks, as well as the effects of oral contraceptives, menstrual cycle phase, and time of day on steroid hormone levels. Testosterone and cortisol were found to be highly reliable in both sexes. Progesterone was found to be reliable after collapsing across sex. Oral contraceptive use was associated with lower levels of testosterone, but did not affect cortisol. Contrary to expectations, oral contraceptives also did not affect progesterone. Menstrual cycle was found to affect levels of progesterone, but not testosterone or cortisol. Time of day had an effect on cortisol, on progesterone only at one testing time, and no effect on testosterone. We explored the interhormone correlations among testosterone, progesterone, and cortisol. All three hormones were positively correlated with one another in men. In women, progesterone was positively correlated with testosterone and cortisol, but testosterone and cortisol were uncorrelated.

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