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Effects of progesterone treatment during adulthood on consummatory and motivational aspects of sexual behavior in male rats

Hawley, Wayne R.; Mosura, Deandra E.

doi: 10.1097/FBP.0000000000000490
Short Report

In males of a variety of species, administration of progesterone during adulthood has been shown to decrease the expression of consummatory sexual behaviors and androgen receptors. However, it remains to be determined if the progesterone-induced decrease in androgen-receptor signaling and consummatory sexual behaviors correspond with less of a preference for a sexually receptive female relative to another male, a behavioral phenotype indicative of sexual motivation. Consistent with the effects of progesterone reported in males of other species, progesterone-treated rats, relative to vehicle-treated rats, exhibited fewer intromissions and ejaculations. Correspondingly, the weights of the androgen sensitive bulbourethral glands were lighter in progesterone-treated rats. In addition, unlike vehicle-treated rats, progesterone-treated rats did not exhibit a preference for a female rat during the early stages of testing. However, across the entire test, both treatment groups exhibited a preference for a female rat, and consequently, there were no differences between the conditions in overall sexual motivation. Progesterone treatment did not alter activity or anxiety-like behaviors. The results of the current study suggest that the lower levels of androgen-receptor signaling and consummatory sexual behaviors in males following progesterone treatment are associated with a transient deficit in the preference for a female sexual incentive.

Department of Psychology, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro, Pennsylvania, USA

Received 28 July 2018 Accepted as revised 26 March 2019

Correspondence to Wayne R. Hawley, PhD, Department of Psychology, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, 210 East Normal Street, Edinboro, PA 16444, USA E-mail:

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