Basal and stress-induced salivary testosterone variation across the menstrual cycle and linkage to motivation and muscle power

Christian J Cook, Liam P Kilduff, Blair T Crewther

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7 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated salivary testosterone (sal-T) variation across the menstrual cycle in female athletes, at different competitive levels, and its association with motivation and neuromuscular power. Six elite and 16 non-elite female athletes were monitored on days 7 (D7), 14 (D14) and 21 (D21) across three menstrual cycles for basal sal-T concentrations and self-appraised motivation to train and compete. Two further measures were taken on D7, D14 and D21 across two menstrual cycles; (1) the sal-T response (delta change) to a physical stress test and (2) peak power (PP) response to a 6-sec cycle sprint following a post-activation potentiation (PAP) stimulus. Basal sal-T concentrations increased by 17±27% from D7 to D14 before decreasing by -25±43% on D21 (p<0.05), but this result was biased by elite females with higher sal-T (>102%) who showed larger menstrual changes. Motivation, sal-T reactivity to stress and the PP responses to a PAP stimulus also varied by testing day (p<0.05), in parallel to basal sal-T and in favour of the elite group. Furthermore, stronger within-subject relationships (p<0.001) between basal sal-T and motivation emerged in the elites (r = 0.70-0.75) versus the non-elites (r = 0.41-0.50). In conclusion, menstrual cycle changes in sal-T were more obvious in high-performing female athletes with higher sal-T concentrations. This was accompanied by greater training motivation, a more pronounced sal-T response to a physical stressor and greater neuromuscular power in the elite group. These results support observations that female athletes with higher T are more represented at elite levels of performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1345-1353
Number of pages9
JournalScandinavian Journal of Sports Sciences
Issue number4
Early online date21 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


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