Dr. Louann Brizendine has written an important commentary at the CNN.com website, proclaiming, “Let Men be Men.” Men and women should read the column. Men to confirm our own self-knowledge, here recognized by an avowed feminist, that there’s nothing wrong with the way our brains work in regard to sex, because we are wired that way.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the male and female brain is that men have a sexual pursuit area that is 2.5 times larger than the one in the female brain. Not only that, but beginning in their teens, they produce 200 to 250 times more testosterone than they did during pre-adolescence.
If testosterone were beer, a 9-year-old boy would be getting the equivalent of a cup a day. But a 15-year-old would be getting the equivalent of nearly two gallons a day. This fuels their sexual engines and makes it impossible for them to stop thinking about female body parts and sex.
At the same time, Dr Brizendine goes on to talk about the changes the male body goes through after childbirth, including massive decreases in testosterone, which makes dads more willing and able to help with the baby.
A man in hot pursuit of a mate doesn’t even remotely resemble a devoted, doting daddy. But that’s what his future holds. When his mate becomes pregnant, she’ll emit pheromones that will waft into his nostrils, stimulating his brain to make more of a hormone called prolactin. Her pheromones will also cause his testosterone production to drop by 30 percent.
This translates into higher auditory acuity and the ability to hear a crying baby in the middle of the night. I can attest that before we had our babies, I could sleep through most things, including crying babies on airplanes. Now, I’m the one who hears the kids cries and whimpers in the middle of the night, while my wife often slumbers on.
Dr. Brizendine suggests that moms worried about leaving their kids with dad (if that is possible in the year 2010), consider that dads’ brains align more with fatherhood with more contact with baby. As we often say at GreatDad, baby bonding does work and moms and dads should take every opportunity to get physically close to the baby, especially if feeling ambivalent about parenthood.
Note: Dr. Louann Brizendine is a member of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the National Board of Medical Examiners, and a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. She is founder and director of the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic. She wrote “The Female Brain” and, just released, “The Male Brain.”