ProjectEmotionale Hormone: Der Einfluss endogener vs. synthetischer Geschlechtshormone auf sexuelle Responsivität bei…

Basic data

Emotionale Hormone: Der Einfluss endogener vs. synthetischer Geschlechtshormone auf sexuelle Responsivität bei Frauen
01/07/2017 to 30/06/2020
Abstract / short description:
Oral contraceptives (OCs) are taken by millions of women worldwide every day. No other “pill” has had such a tremendous effect on society, primarily by enabling women to control and prevent pregnancy, thereby challenging societal conventions and gender stereotypes. While evidence has accumulated that endogenous sex steroids affect a broad spectrum of human behaviour, little is known about the psychological and neurobiological effects of OC-intake. The few existing studies however point to significant changes in social behaviour, which may have far reaching individual and societal consequences: mating preferences shift across the menstrual cycle and are affected by OC-intake. Further, sex steroids affect sexual desire and arousal and alter reward processing. Therefore, concentration of sex steroids has critical impact on a very important facet of a woman’s life: mate choice and mating preferences. Consequently, it may affect sexual appetence and thus the actual behavioural tendencies i.e. approach and avoidance behaviour, however, this has not been assessed up to now.
The main objective of this proposal is to investigate the impact of endogenous and synthetic sex steroids on sexual appetence and brain response. To do so, 3 groups of women will be studied: 1) naturally cycling women, 2) women starting OC-intake after the first measurement and 3) women with OC-intake longer than 12 months. All women will undergo an approach-avoidance task targeting sexual appetence using functional neuroimaging techniques. Additionally, we will assess brain volume and resting-state functional connectivity. To assess changes due to OC-intake, all women will be measured twice to highlight short-term impact of OC-intake after 3 months. Moreover, effects of cycle- and OC-intake dependent hormonal fluctuations on performance and neuroimaging parameters (neural activation, resting state functional connectivity and grey matter morphometry) will also be analysed.
The present project focuses on the combination and subsequent integration of behavioural, subjective, endocrinological and neural data on female social behaviour. This will be the first study to address the impact of OC-intake on several levels combing different neuroimaging parameters (functional activation, resting-state functional connectivity and brain volume) as well as behavioural performance. By doing so, the psychological and neurobiological implications of OC-intake will be characterised.
sexual selection
sexuelle Selektion
functional magnetic resonance imaging, funktionelle Magnetresonanztomographie

Involved staff


Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Hospitals and clinical institutes, Faculty of Medicine
Research training group: Women’s mental health across the reproductive years
Research training groups

Local organizational units

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Hospitals and clinical institutes
Faculty of Medicine


Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

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