Researchers say stereotypical masculine traits do not seem to be linked to testosterone levels.

The new study could prompt a rethink of the link between testosterone and masculinity.

The Australian-first study analysed testosterone levels of more than 500 men aged 35 and older and assessed their self-perceptions of masculinity through a questionnaire that rated six different indicators of masculinity.

Research leader and endocrinologist, Professor Gary Wittert, said the results showed no relationship between testosterone and masculinity.

“Masculinity traditionally tends to be characterised by traits such as toughness, emotional control, physical strength, competitiveness and sexual competency,” Professor Wittert said.

“The six areas of self-perceived masculinity evaluated in this study were physical strength, optimism, sexuality, self-reliability, family responsibility and ability to take action. We found there was no link between the participants’ self-perceptions of these traits and their testosterone concentration.”

Professor Wittert said the study clearly showed that psychosocial factors and physical disorders are the variants underpinning self-perceived masculinity.

“The key factors negatively impacting scores included a history of anxiety, being without a partner and most significantly living with moderate to severe erectile dysfunction,” he said.

Men with bigger waistlines and varying levels of erectile dysfunction were less confident sexually and less optimistic, while males with partners viewed themselves as physically stronger and more responsible than those who had been widowed or divorced.

“The notion that typical traits of masculinity are linked to testosterone and are risk factors for poor health no longer stand up to scrutiny,” Prof Wittert said.

“Accumulating evidence suggests that aspects of typical masculinity might be associated with better health and health outcomes for men.”

The study is accessible here.