Can Sex Affect Your Bodybuilding Gains?
Human beings are sexual beings.
Human sexuality used to be the providence of religion and philosophy but modern science has made sexuality the object of independent objective study.
Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud believed that sexuality and the sexual force forms the basis of the human psyche [soul / mind] and drives human behavior. His psychoanalytic theory of personality serves as the basis of modern psychology.
Psychoanalytic personality theory states that ID - the primal element of the unconscious mind - controls survival needs and drives behaviour toward obtaining pleasure and satisfying basic needs. To this end, ID controls the survival mechanisms of the human psyche - the forces of life and death.
Modern psychology has displaced psychoanalytic theory and has replaced it with Maslows' Hierarchy of Needs and drive-reduction-theory.
Drive-reduction-theory states that human beings are driven to satisfy physical or psychological needs. The Hierarchy of Needs orders the sequence in which people seek the satisfaction of their needs. Used together, the two theories allow for a scientific understanding of human behaviour.
Whereas Freud stated that "anatomy is destiny" and that life's purpose is to live, to reproduce, and to die, modern psychology states that human beings seek to live life richly, and that a satisfying life is made possible by first satisfying physical needs, and then moving on to satisfy psychological needs. Modern psychology also contends that human beings have free choice.
However, freedom demands responsibility and brings risk - we also have the freedom to make wrong choices, and the responsibility to deal with the consequences. The free road is fraught with danger.
Nowhere is freedom more important and danger more apparent than with issues of sexuality. Applied correctly, healthy sexual activity can enhance immune function, mental health and quality of life. Unhealthy sexual acts can reap consequences ranging from physical injury and psychosis, to AIDS, to death.
The correct application of healthy sexual practice can enhance mental health, physical function and quality of life; the incorrect application of sexual practice, or even the incorrect application of healthy sexual practice, can impair immune function and decrease anabolic and androgenic hormone levels that contribute to muscle growth.
Can healthy sexual practice improve your immune-system? Can healthy sexual practice improve quality of life? Can healthy sexual practice improve your physical function - including athletic performance - by helping you build more muscle? The answer to these questions is: yes.
Hierarchy of Needs
Many athletes have questions about sexual practice, and how sexual practice is applied so as to maximize immune-function, physical performance and quality of life. Should an athlete abstain the night prior to a competition? Should the athlete partake? Does sexual activity increase or decrease testosterone levels? The answers to these questions are in scientific literature.
This article will examine the latest research on sexual practice and its application within the context of an athletic training program.
The Scientific Research On Sex
The link between sexual practice and endocrine function is only now being studied seriously by academia.
Sex And Immune System Function
Recent research has demonstrated that hormonal fluctuations occur post-induced ejaculation, and that induced ejaculations help to increase adrenalin, prolactin1 and killer cell (CD3-CD16+CD56+)2 levels.
This research is the first to suggest an explanation for the immune system enhancing effects of induced ejaculation. Nocturnal emissions were not correlated with these health-enhancing effects.
Sex, Dopamine, Adrenalin And Arousal
Sexual activity facilitates the release of dopamine.3 Dopamine (C8H11NO2) is a simple neurotransmitter and monoamine that plays a role in the synthesis and release of epinephrine (adrenalin). The increase in heart rate that accompanies sexual arousal is a function of dopamine's impact on adrenalin release.
Dopamine plays a role in addiction and pleasure seeking behaviors because it is a "feel good" hormone. Research has demonstrated that hormones do not play a role in sexual deviance, and thus dopamine may underlie sexual addiction and arousal.
Sex And Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer affects about 70% of men over the age of 65. The American Cancer Society estimates that 2004 will see 230,900 new cases of diagnosed prostate cancer.
Prior to the scientific study of the ejaculation process, it was believed that frequent ejaculations was linked to increased prostate cancer rates. Not only has emerging research refuted this idea4, but new research has demonstrated that increased ejaculation frequency in the mid-to-late 20's was correlated with LOWER prostate cancer rates!5
Academia and established medicine think that an increase in the frequency of ejaculations serves to protect the prostate from damage. It does so by clearing the prostate of seminal fluid that may contain DNA damaging carcinogens.
Sex And Heart Health
Heart health is essential to athletic performance. The heart pumps oxygenated blood to vital organs and muscles. Poor heart function can lead to decreased endurance, impaired performance, and stunted muscular growth.
Obesity is the fastest growing health problem in North America. The 1999 HANES report estimated that 61% of adults are overweight and obese, with 15% of this number being morbidly or fatally obese.
Obesity and its related health complications can adversely affect heart health. Extra body fat and elevated blood triglyceride levels can lead to hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Thankfully, research has shown that sexual arousal stimulates adrenalin and thermogenesis (fat burning). Adrenalin taps into adipose (fatty) tissue for energy, and this explains why sexual activity is associated with being slim.6
Testosterone is responsible for muscle growth, and muscle growth does not occur in its absence. Consequently, athletes go to great lengths to boost testosterone levels. Athletes may take a variety of herbs, vitamins, minerals, prohormones, prosteroids, and even illegal steroids, to boost their testosterone levels and performance.
Nutritional supplements are effective at altering hormone levels, but many lose effectiveness over time as the body down-regulates its natural production of substances as a response to exogenous influence. Muscle growth can stop when this occurs.
Elevating testosterone levels naturally is achieved by correctly applying sound training, nutrition and sexual protocols. Scientific literature and anecdote testify to the effects of nutrition, exercise, and recovery on muscle growth, but the correct application of sexual activity as a method of boosting muscle growth is only now being studied seriously.
Chinese researchers conducted a study in 2003, and enlisted twenty-eight male volunteers to abstain from ejaculation for a period of one week. The participants were tested daily for deviations on serum testosterone levels. The Chinese study was the first to measure the influence of ejaculation frequency on serum testosterone levels, and the results are provocative.
Researchers found that abstaining from ejaculation for six days had no impact on serum testosterone levels. On the seventh day, serum testosterone levels peaked to 145.7% of baseline, and then declined rapidly on the eighth day.7,8
Researchers believe testosterone declined on day eight from the negative feedback suppression of Leutinizing hormone secretion. Leutinizing hormone is essential for testosterone production, and LH determines free testosterone levels. Suppression of LH would decrease serum testosterone levels, returning them to baseline. The study determined that the frequency of sexual activity and ejaculation impacted testosterone levels.
Putting It All Together: A Hormone Protocol
Research is useful inasmuch as it can be applied to provide direction. Based on the latest scientific research on sexuality and sexual behaviour as it relates to physiological function, here is chronological sequence of action that best utilizes the findings of the research:
- Because testosterone levels are minimized in the presence of elevated insulin levels, the pre-workout meal should consist of lipids and protein - both of which have negligible impacts on insulin levels.
- Research demonstrates that testosterone levels rise as a response to sexual stimuli. Therefore, an athlete could benefit pre-workout by being exposed pre-workout to sexual stimuli. The athlete could then exercise with increased testosterone levels and aggression.
- Post-workout, the athlete should consume a protein drink with flax oil or olive oil. Lipids facilitate the passive permeation of the cell wall by sex hormones.
- One hour post-exercise, the athlete should achieve ejaculation. This will increase the natural level of killer cells, thus increasing immune-system function and enhancing recovery abilities. The increase in killer cells will prevent over-training.
You may also choose to postpone the achievement of ejaculation for seven days so as to maximize testosterone on a day of the athletes choosing - i.e. on the hardest training or competition day. If the athlete chooses this protocol, ejaculation should be achieved on the seventh day, post workout and according to the above protocol, so as to avoid the negative feedback suppression of LH demonstrated on day eight of abstinence.
Natural testosterone fluctuations can be manipulated only within the context of hormonally correct exercise and nutrition. If nutrition or exercise are inappropriate and if insulin and estrogen levels rise, testosterone, GH and IGF-1 will be adversely impacted and muscle growth inhibited.
Sexual activity is an integral part of human life.
Science is only now beginning to understand the impact of sexual activity on immune-response and hormone profile, but one thing is clear: sexual forces underlie all human behavior, and correctly manipulated sexual activity can improve physical health.
You can favorably affect your health and hormone profile by acting in accordance with the emerging science. By applying the recommended protocol, you can reap the benefits of enhanced immune-system response and elevated testosterone levels.
- Exton MS, Bindert A, Kruger T, Scheller F, Hartmann U, Schedlowski M. Cardiovascular and endocrine alterations after masturbation-induced orgasm in women. Psychosom Med. 1999 May-Jun;61(3):280-9.
- Haake P, Krueger TH, Goebel MU, Heberling KM, Hartmann U, Schedlowski M. Effects of sexual arousal on lymphocyte subset circulation and cytokine production in man. Neuroimmunomodulation. 2004;11(5):293-8.
- Paredes RG, Agmo A. Has dopamine a physiological role in the control of sexual behavior? A critical review of the evidence. Prog Neurobiol. 2004 Jun;73(3):179-226.
- Leitzmann MF, Platz EA, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Giovannucci E. Ejaculation frequency and subsequent risk of prostate cancer. JAMA. 2004 Apr 7;291(13):1578-86.
- British Journal of Urology International, vol. 92, p.211
- Brody S. Slimness is associated with greater intercourse and lesser masturbation frequency. J Sex Marital Ther. 2004 Jul-Sep;30(4):251-61.
- Jiang M. Periodic changes in serum testosterone levels after ejaculation in men. Sheng Li Xue Bao 2002 Dec 25;54(6):535-8
- Jiang M, Xin J, Zou Q, Shen JW. A research on the relationship between ejaculation and serum testosterone level in men. J Zhejiang Univ Sci. 2003 Mar-Apr;4(2):236-40.
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