If hormones are influential in the control of sexual behaviour in women then, with the shifts in hormone secretion during the menstrual cycle allowing the actions of oestrogen to be dominant at one stage and progesterone at another, there should be a distinct pattern in the timing of intercourse. The question should also be easily resolved, for all that ought to be needed is information on the course of the menstrual cycle and when intercourse takes place. Indeed, the distribution of sexual activity through the menstrual cycle has often been studied, but the findings are remarkably at odds with one another. Of thirty-two analyses, sexual activity was found to be increased premenstrually in seventeen, postmenstrually in eighteen, highest during menstruation in four, and greatest around the time of ovulation in eight (Schreiner-Engel, 1980). No evidence of a mid-cycle or peri-ovulatory peak in sexual activity was found in a recent study involving fifty-five women in whom detailed hormone measurements established that the menstrual cycles were normal (Sanders and Bancroft, 1952). There is evidently little consistency in the results, so that those convinced that hormonal changes are influential in the timing or frequency of intercourse have still to make their case.
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