[Tiny Nibbles] Does Higher Testosterone in Men Mean Safer Sex?

A new study from the University of Michigan is sure to get trotted out for years to come as proof that “real men have safe sex.” But to my eyes, what the study actually says is pretty unclear — and, in fact, it may not really say anything.

The study was about testosterone levels and a positive correlation to condom use in college-age men, but the headline on the Live Science article was as follows: ‘Macho’ Guys More Accepting of Safe Sex. It was then picked up by, GULP!, The Daily Mail, among other publications, all of whom reported it as de facto proof that macho guys are more likely to use condoms.

But the very notion that machismo is only about testosterone levels is insulting to me, as a proud collector of guns and swear words. Live Science shouldn’t be drawing an equals sign between testosterone and “Macho,” even if there is a vague (and squiggly, and sometimes dotted) arrow.

More importantly, Live Science’s article contradicts itself on the topic of what constitutes risk. That would be more or less irrelevant…if it weren’t the entire assertion of the paper.


Image: Durex wheelbarrow, by Ogilvy Singapore.

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