Sonntag, 3. März 2013
Testosterone and the Morning-After Pill
Dr. Edith Breburda
We all know about the legend, that male sex hormone testosterone would trigger aggression. Bodybuilders and athletes often abuse this hormone, because of its anabolic function. It does not only increase muscle mass it is also identified with all the stereotypes of masculinity. Is male behavior controlled by hormones?
The "Handbook of Crime Correlates" investigated if high levels of testosterone are associated with criminal tendencies. South African athletic star Oscar Pistorious became the perfect example of the testosterone myth. Newspapers, like the South African Sunday, or the German Munich "Abendzeitung" wrote: "Did Pistorius murdered in a "roid rage"? (an extremely aggressive behavior associated with taking large doses of steroids).
At that time it was not identified what kind of substance Pistorius had in his room. Nevertheless, within hours sensationalized News media worldwide blamed steroids for Pistorius "explosion of fury". The City Press referred to the "dumbbell defense" - anabolic steroids made me do it- a legal strategy of blaming criminal acts on the psychological effects of testosterone. Testosterone is used as a legitimate excuse. It is hoped, a defendant responsible for crime might get absolution, because of toxic levels of anabolic steroids. The hypothesis of testosterone-induced aggression has been widely studied. You might find as many papers in favor or against the hypothesis, explains Dr. Matthias Wibral from the Center of Economics and Neuroscience of the University of Bonn/Germany. "Testosterone influences not only the behavior, but also the behavior triggers the testosterone levels".
Animal behaviorists found that birds are more aggressive during the breeding season. Scientists speak about a "Challenge Hypothesis". During the mating contexts a relationship between testosterone and aggression exist, to ensure reproduction. Hormonally driven behavior is associated with a stallion. High performance horses are often gelded, to make them more suitable and less likely to fight with one another. Breeding options for outstanding equine athletes still exist, but they are very expensive -through the breeding technique to clone them.
Karin Kneissl, an outstanding middle-east expert, just published a book with the title "Testosteron macht Politik" (Testosterone Makes Politics). Karin stated the Arab Spring were mainly carried out by men. She noticed only a few women in Tahrir Square. Kneissl argues that the hormone would be responsible that man rose up against those in power. "I started watching the first images of revolutionaries in Egypt. I thought maybe one of the factors triggering that wave of violence, disobedience or riot was a biological one. My hypothesis is the following: a young man who has no possibility to channel his energy- or his testosterone- is able to disregard risk."
She argues that in human male the plasma concentration of testosterone is 10 times greater as in females. She attributes high levels of testosterone to make angry young men more prone to risk-taking acts of aggression to start revolutions. Young Arab men can't afford to marry, because of rigid social morals, or because of social and economic reasons -they are out of work- they have no opportunity to channel their energy.
In this regard Kneissl also worries about China's one-child polices as well. There are only 100 women per 130 men.
A social riot can be an outlet, concluded Kneissl in her interview with Laura Blue in Time Magazine, July 27,2012, "Testosterone, the Power Hormone".
"Can hormones turn us into murder" asked Michael van den Heuvel in his article: "Testosterone: The Aggro-Mythos" (published DocCheck 2/25/2012). Oscar Pistorius will be remembered as South African sprint runner, murderer and the use of anabolic steroids.
High levels of Testosterone are not an excuse to overstep legal boundaries. But the barrier to engage in crime might be taken when there is a reasonable explanation.
The question is, can we diminish the seriousness of rape by arguing there is a morning- after pill. The rapist will not face any consequences for his act. We have to consider that every sperm donor might be charged to pay alimony.
Do we downplay sexual misconduct when we argue, pregnancy starts in between day 7-9 after conception, with the implantation of the embryo? Some call a human being at the beginning of his embryonic development a "Pre-Embryo", without realizing that such a term does not exist. Life begins at the moment of conception - this is a biological imperative.
Contraceptives, which have huge side effects, work in two ways. They have their effects on ovulation and afterwards cause endometrial atrophy, which hinders nidation of an embryo.