The Upside of Lower Testosterone in Fathers

By Aaron Traister, REDBOOK

A new study shows fatherhood diminishes a man's testosterone levels. Stay-at-home dad Aaron weighs in.

Contagion finished number one at the box office last weekend, but I didn't need to see it in theaters. I've had the live version going on in my house for over a week.

My kids never get sick, but that didn't stop my daughter from getting diagnosed with a mild upper-respiratory infection the Saturday before last, nor did it matter when my son caught the chickenpox three days later. I've been quarantined in my own house with two sick kids since last Tuesday. I imagine that being slowly eaten alive by abnormally large catfish would be a preferable experience. Then, two nights ago, just as my kids were starting to feel better and I was about to get my first decent night's sleep in nine days, I woke up with severe nausea. I spent the hours between two and four in the morning vomiting while watching a show on JCTV called Youthquake about the dangers of premarital sex for teenagers and young adults (this is what I get for canceling cable).

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The next morning, I opened my email to discover that my editors had sent me news stories about a study that showed fatherhood diminishes a man's testosterone levels. Not only that, but heavily-involved fathers have even more significantly reduced testosterone levels. Because I'm a stay-at-home dad, my editors wanted my opinion on this amazing scientific discovery. Personally, I think whatever testosterone I had left probably got puked out sometime around 3:30 a.m. that night, along with the previous day's BLT.

Actually, I could care less that I might have diminished testosterone, as the big take-aways from the Time and New York Times articles are that is doesn't affect my libido and it might even lower my risk for prostate cancer. While some of the scientists say that this study proves that men are designed to be natural caregivers, I'm sure some people out there will see the results and scoff, saying that it's scientific proof that dudes like me, who stay home with our kids, are turning into p*$$!es. Luckily, this kind of "high-minded" debate is out of my pay grade, so I can leave that to the academics.

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As for the practical application of parenthood altering male physiology, I have noticed one major change in my life: I get sick like a mom now. By that, I mean that when my family gets sick-did I mention that my wife Karel just came home and collapsed on our bed in a feverish puddle of sweat?-I get sick as well, but I'm still able to take care of everyone else.

Since my night of puking, my feet have swollen and started tingling. While my whole family suffers from pox and flu, I'm forced to tend to their illnesses while suffering from a mild case of gout. It's great. So, to recap this rambling post: I have low testosterone, a potential case of gout, and my house contains disgusting sick people. But I'm going to the Phillies game on Friday, so it's all okay. I just hope gout and low testosterone aren't contagious. See you at the ballpark!

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Need help decoding odd male behavior? Redbook columnist Aaron Traister, who lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two kids, is our resident male who is happy to answer any questions you might have about the mind of a man. Either leave your questions in the comments or email him at redbook@hearst.com with Whys Guy in the subject. Letters, emails, and comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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