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The measurement of salivary steroids is evaluated as a field method for investigations of human reproductive function. Progesterone was measured in the saliva of women from two ethnic groups living in the Ituri Forest of northeastern Zaire. The study was conducted during a time of low food availability, and samples were collected from women with a history of subfertility. The results indicate that gonadal dysfunction may contribute to the low fertility observed in the area. Ituri women had lower average progesterone levels than western controls, and a significantly higher proportion of them failed to achieve progesterone levels indicative of normal ovulatory function. The composite progesterone profile of the Ituri women also suggests a shortening of the luteal phase. Samples from western field controls yielded expected results, indicating that under adequate sampling regimes the salivary steroid method can provide accurate assessments of gonadal function under non-clinical field conditions. Because it is mini­mally invasive, the method is ideally suited to anthropological field studies.