Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Hum Biol. 2015 Jul-Aug;27(4):501-7. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22676. Epub 2015 Mar 7.

Women who are married or living as married have higher salivary estradiol and progesterone than unmarried women.

Author information

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York.
Department of Biostatistics, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York.
The Cancer Center, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.
Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway.



Extensive research has demonstrated that marriage and parenting are associated with lower testosterone levels in men, however, very little is known about associations with hormone concentrations in women. Two studies have found lower testosterone in relation to pair-bonding and motherhood in women, with several others suggesting that estradiol levels are lower among parous women than nulliparous women. Here, we examine estradiol and progesterone concentrations in relation to marriage and motherhood in naturally cycling, reproductive age women.


In 185 Norwegian women, estradiol and progesterone concentrations were assayed from waking saliva samples collected daily over the course of a menstrual cycle. Cycles were aligned on day 0, the day of ovulation. Mean periovulatory estradiol (days -7 to +6) and luteal progesterone (day +2 to +10) indices were calculated. Marital status and motherhood (including age of youngest child) were reported in baseline questionnaires. Multivariable linear regression models were used to examine associations between ovarian hormones, marital status, and motherhood.


Women who were married or living as married had higher estradiol than unmarried women (β = 0.19; 95% CI: 0.02, 0.36) and higher luteal progesterone as well (β = 0.19; 95% CI: -0.01, 0.39). There were no notable differences in hormone levels in relationship to motherhood status.


Our results indicate that ovarian steroid hormones may be higher among women who are married or living as married, and suggest several possible explanations, however, additional research is needed to elucidate any causal relationships.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PubMed Central Icon for Norwegian BIBSYS system
Loading ...
Support Center