Differential maintenance of penile responses and copulatory behavior by gonadal hormones in castrated male rats

Robert L. Meisel, Joyce K. O'Hanlon, Benjamin D. Sachs

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70 Scopus citations


Sexually experienced male rats were castrated and immediately received implants of Silastic tubing containing either testosterone (T), dihydrotestosterone (DHT), estradiol (E), or nothing (blank). The ability of these hormone treatments to maintain precastration levels of copulatory behavior and ex copula penile responses was assessed for 40 days after castration. Throughout the study T- and E-treated males, but not males with DHT or blank implants, maintained normal copulatory behavior. In contrast males treated with T and DHT, but not E or blanks, maintained penile responses ex copula. In blank-treated males, penile-response latencies increased more rapidly than did intromission latencies. These results, together with those of previous studies, appear to rule out a role for estradiol and reinforce the role of androgens in the activation of rats' penile-response potential ex copula. Similarly, the results support the conclusion that in castrated male rats estradiol treatment is sufficient for the activation of masculine copulatory behavior, and that the penile actions necessary for intromission are not dependent on androgen. Thus, the evocability of penile actions and their relative androgen dependence are context sensitive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-64
Number of pages9
JournalHormones and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1984

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from NICHD (HD 08933) and the University of Connecticut Research Foundation to B. D. Sachs. We thank Linda Miher, Linda Talalas, and Bruce Bergen for technical assistance.


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