Heterosexual activity: relationship with ovarian function

Mary Burleson, W. Larry Gregory, Wenda R. Trevathan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Previous research demonstrated a relationship between the temporal pattern of heterosexual activity and an index of ovarian functioning. In the current study, this relationship was investigated in 147 menstruating heterosexual women (aged 19-53). They kept prospective daily records of menses, basal body temperature, sexual activity, and other behaviors for three consecutive menstrual cycles. In contrast to previous findings, women with intermediate levels of sexual activity displayed more frequent optimal menstrual cycles. Pheromones, semen absorption, and orgasm-related changes were tested as mediators for a causal influence of sexual activity on ovarian functioning; none was supported. Exploratory analyses tested the hypothesis that anovulatory cycles (with presumably lower progesterone) would display more sexual activity than ovulatory cycles. This hypothesis was supported, and the difference in sexual activity was limited to the second half of the cycle, after ovulation would have occurred. Thus, the findings incorporate temporal precedence of ovulation to support the idea that physiological processes influence the level of sexual activity in heterosexual women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-421
Number of pages17
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1995


  • Human pheromones
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Orgasm
  • Ovulation
  • Reproductive cues
  • Sexual activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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