Most people would agree that having a child changes you. But if you thought it was only the mother who undergoes physiological changes during pregnancy and after childbirth, think again.
A study published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that men whose testosterone levels were tested at age 21 before they had children showed a significant drop off in the hormone level 4 and a half years later after having and beginning to care for offspring, as compared to men who remained single and childless. In fact, men who had children showed a decline in testosterone that was more than twice that of men who didn’t have children.
The men in the study who spent the most amount of time caring for their offspring were shown to have the lowest testosterone levels, begging the chicken or the egg question: does a drop in testosterone influence men to show a more hands-on parenting style, or does their more sensitive behavior cause the drop in testosterone?
The study authors believe that the answer could be a little of both. They also suggest that the hormone drop is an evolutionary adaptation that helps men commit to their families once children are born.
So, while this news may not be good for men who want to retain as much as machismo as possible, it’s good news for pregnant women looking for their partners to settle down into family life and for the children who will benefit from the greater role these fathers will play in their lives.
Sources: nytimes.com and pnas.org