Should I mate or should I go: cyclical control of female rejection behavior

Cyclic fluctuations in sex hormone levels intricately coordinate female sexual behavior with reproductive capacity, notably demonstrated in rodents where females only accept copulation attempts during their fertile phase. Outside this window, copulation is not only hindered by low receptivity but also actively rejected. Despite extensive research on female receptivity, rejection behavior has been largely overlooked, often dismissed as a lack of receptivity. Here I will describe a novel circuit dedicated to the cyclical control of rejection behavior situated in the ventromedial hypothalamus. Our findings suggest that a female’s sexual response to copulation attempts throughout the reproductive cycle arises from two distinct processes: receptivity and rejection. These processes are governed by separate and spatially segregated hypothalamic populations, whose activity is modulated by the reproductive cycle in a bidirectional and opposing manner.