Masturbation is a healthy and safe sexual activity that has links to numerous health benefits, such as pain relief and stress reduction. Opinions on how masturbation affects exercise vary, but there is not enough evidence to support one view over the other.
Some members of the health and fitness community are in a debate about the potential risks and benefits of masturbation before a workout.
Some people believe that masturbation can influence levels of testosterone, which plays a crucial role in promoting overall physical fitness. They also think that masturbation and other sexual activities can lead to improvements in mood and lower stress, which can indirectly improve physical performance.
However, other people think that masturbation adversely influences physical performance due to excess energy expenditure. Continue reading to learn about the possible benefits and side effects associated with masturbating before a workout.
The debate about whether masturbation is beneficial before exercise seems to focus on how masturbation influences testosterone.
Testosterone is the primary male reproductive hormone, but females also produce it. It plays a crucial role in promoting physical fitness among both males and females. According to one animal study, it plays a vital role in muscle protein synthesis.
Another review that included studies on humans suggests that testosterone also plays a role in bone formation.
With that said, the question remains whether masturbation significantly affects testosterone levels.
What do the studies say?
Testosterone levels naturally increase during sexual arousal and decrease after orgasm, but it appears that masturbation does not significantly impact a person's level of testosterone.
The findings of a 2001 study showed that orgasm due to masturbation did not affect plasma testosterone levels. However, the authors observed higher concentrations of testosterone in men who abstained from sexual activity for 3 weeks. This was a small study with only 10 participants.
In another early study from 2003, researchers observed that testosterone levels fluctuated minimally during the first 5 days of sexual abstinence, peaked at 7 days, and then remained constant. The findings of this study suggest that short periods of abstinence may result in temporary fluctuations in testosterone levels.
Although masturbation has little to no effect on testosterone levels, it may still benefit a person's workout performance.
However, there is not enough scientific research to support a direct link between masturbation and better physical performance.
Current scientific research does suggest, however, that sexual activity may enhance people's overall health.
Hormones, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and oxytocin, increase during and following sexual climax. These hormones positively affect mood and could influence the mental aspect of exercise by improving a person's frame of mind and motivation during a workout.
Masturbation is a safe sexual activity that has few, if any, long term side effects.
One 2016 review looking at sexual activity and competitive sports concludes that there is not any evidence to suggest that masturbation has a direct adverse effect on overall physical fitness or sports performance in males or females. Anecdotal evidence also indicates that having sexual intercourse about 10 hours before taking part in a sports competition may have a positive effect on performance.
Masturbating too frequently can lead to temporary side effects, including:
It appears that masturbation induces similar effects in both males and females. Engaging in sexual activity increases testosterone levels, reduces stress, and relieves pain.
Male and female bodies respond differently to testosterone. Males naturally have higher levels of testosterone than females, which leads to the development of some typical male characteristics, such as body and facial hair.
These characteristics do not usually occur in females producing normal levels of the hormone. Testosterone also plays an essential role in sperm production and egg development.
Currently, scientific research has not revealed a direct relationship between masturbation and exercise performance in males or females.
However, the findings of one recent study suggest that regular sexual activity may improve levels of life satisfaction and enjoyment among older adults.
Masturbation has little to no direct effect on people's workout performance. Although testosterone levels fluctuate immediately after orgasm, the change is temporary and unlikely to affect a person's physical fitness.
Masturbation may stimulate the release of endorphins and other feel-good hormones. These hormonal changes can help reduce stress and improve mood.
People should structure their routines accordingly. If masturbating makes someone extremely tired, they may want to avoid it before a workout. Masturbating has few, if any, side effects.