Changes in the sexual behavior and testosterone levels of male rats in response to daily interactions with estrus females (2014)

Physiol Behav. 2014 Jun 22;133:8-13. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.05.001.

Shulman LM1, Spritzer MD2.


Male rat sexual behavior has been intensively studied over the past 100 years, but few studies have examined how sexual behavior changes over the course of several days of interactions.

In this experiment, adult male rats in the experimental group (n=12) were given daily access to estrus females for 30 min per day for 15 consecutive days while control males (n=11) did not interact with females. Ovariectomized females were induced into estrus with hormonal injections, and males interacted with a different female each day.

The amount of sexual activity (mounts, intromissions, and ejaculations) was found to cycle with a period of approximately 4 days in most male rats.

Additionally, blood was collected every other day following sexual interactions to assess serum testosterone levels. Testosterone was found to peak on the first day of interaction and then fell back to near the level of control rats that did not interact with females. Following the initial peak, testosterone concentrations fluctuated less in males exposed to females than in controls. Sexual activity was not found to predict testosterone concentration. We conclude that when male rats have daily sexual interactions, sexual behavior tends to show cyclic changes and testosterone is significantly elevated only on the first day of interactions.