It's defined through popular science as the male hormone responsible for high sex drives and low voices in men, but research has discovered that healthy men actually have only low levels of the hormones and in women, too much testosterone can lead to an increase in masturbation but less interest in sex with a partner.
In recent study, Sari van Anders, a behavioral neuroendocrinologist at the University of Michigan, focused on a rare combination of factors - looking at sexuality, stress and body image combined with the hormone levels.
Just under 200 volunteers were asked to fill out a questionnaire detailing their moods, stress levels, body image and sexuality as well as how frequently they had a desire to masturbate or have sex with a partner.
Van Anders says that while previous thought might lump desire into one category, there could be a subtle difference between the desire to masturbate (she calls this "solitary desire") compared to the desire to have sex with a partner.
The desire to have sex with a partner may be influenced by other factors in a relationship, such as whether or not you had a fight or how attractive you feel, whereas solitary desire will internal and therefore less influenced by social factors.
Using saliva samples, researchers analysed hormone levels, comparing these results to the answers each volunteer gave in the questionnaires.
The findings showed the testosterone levels had no influence on how much or little men thought about sex - whether solitary or with a partner. In fact, the only reason van Anders could find to explain why men's sex drives are typically higher than women's (a common assumption) was that while men's sex drive was influenced by frequent masturbation and solitary sex was less common amongst women.
On the other hand, she did find that women whose testosterone levels measured as high reported less desire for sex with a partner… but more desire for solitary sex.
In fact, those women who reported having no desire at all to masturbate were also found to have low levels of testosterone, a finding which researchers think may point to another theory - that women in relationships tend to have lower testosterone levels because they are more focused on bonding and being connected to their partner than simply a need for pleasure.
Van Anders and her team think that this difference in masturbation habits might have something to do with the gap in desire between men and women.
LiveScience quoted Van Anders as saying: "The idea is that if women don't feel comfortable with their genitals and masturbating, and if they don't think it's okay and refrain from doing it and don't express their desires, after a while, the desire might change as well."
She believes social factors play a large role in our propensity for desire. She intends to investigate the subtle difference in desire and how these are influence both by our own bodily chemistry and the way we've been brought up.