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Does Watching Porn Increase Testosterone?

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When it comes to boosting performance you need to train hard and eat well. You’ll need to strive for any edge that you can find to naturally increase your T levels – but are there any other little tricks you can employ to keep pushing your gains?

In this article we look at one left field approach to boosting your T levels and answer the question does watching porn increase your testosterone levels and physical performance? 

In this short article, we cover the basics on the connection between erotica and your T-levels to see what advantages (or disadvantages) it may have. You’ll learn:

  • The theory behind sex and perfomance?
  • Does abstinence work for your sport?
  • What about Porn and Testosterone?
  • The Studies behind it
  • Does Watching Porn Increase Testosterone?

The Theory Behind Sex and Performance

The interaction between sex hormones and behavior is complex and many people have different views on how the two are related.

The media is full of stories about various coaches, and their attitudes towards sex prior to competitions and physical performances – the theory is that abstaining from sexual activity prior to a big sporting event helps the athlete to focus attention on the game in hand.

A good example of this is the England National soccer team manager Fabio Capello, who famously banned the players’ wives and girlfriends from seeing them other than once a week.

Likewise, many other athletes have abstained from sex before competitions – Muhammad Ali, Linford Christie, Matt Chan to name but a few. Sport is full of anecdotes and opinions on whether to abstain or not.


Does abstinence work for performance?

Unfortunately, the data doesn’t really back up these claims, with studies showing that sexual intercourse in the 12-2 hours prior to maximal exercise testing does not effect markers of maximal aerobic power production [1] as well as other components of athleticism such as maximum workload and mental concentration [2]. There were no changes to T levels reported either.

So evidence doesn’t suggest that abstinence makes you perform any better. However, there are a number of studies that show that sexual arousal without behavior can increase T levels and possibly even performance.


Does-Porn-Increase-Testosterone

Key Point: Many athletes abstain from sexual activity prior to big games and events but the research doesn’t really support the claims.


So what about Porn and Testosterone?

In probably the biggest study of its kind so far, Escasa et al [3] analysed the effect of sexual visual stimuli on T levels by inviting 44 males to a swingers club in Las Vegas – the results showed that when men observed sexual activity their T levels increased by 11%.

But is there a difference between ‘live’ sexual imagery and digital? Let’s take a look…


Viewing Pornography and T-Levels: The Studies

Believe it or not, there are numerous studies that involve digital erotic material and testosterone levels. This is how science weighs in on the matter:

Study 1: Cook et al [4]

A study by Cook et al investigated the effects of watching ‘short video clips’ on T levels. 12 highly trained volunteers watched a 4 minute film of different origin – some watched erotic films, whilst others were asked to watch sad, humorous, or motivational clips.

The results showed that T levels increased with the erotic film, decreased with the sad film and an aggressive film significantly increased cortisol. The erotic film also saw an improvement in 3RM squat tests too.

The study concluded that speculatively, using short video presentations in the pre-workout environment offers an opportunity for understanding the outcomes of hormonal change, athlete behavior and subsequent voluntary performance. 

Study 2: Seo et al [5]

Likewise, Seo et al investigated the effect of visual sexual stimulation on sex hormones, including testosterone. 12 volunteers were presented with a range of pictures – food, happy couples, nature and naked couples. Whilst these images were being presented the volunteers had various centers of their brains MRI’d.

Results showed that there was an increase in testosterone that was positively associated with the erotic visuals.

Study 3: Hellhammer et al [6]

In this study, Hellhammer and colleagues measured the T levels of 20 young men before and after presentation of 5 different films- erotic, sexual, aggressive, stressful and neutral.

Results were really interesting – T levels increased by 35% after watching the sexually explicit film– increasing from 15 minutes and peaking at 60-90 minutes after the end of the film – additionally the men also reported increased motivation, competitiveness, and decreased exhaustion which has obvious transference to the gym.

Study 4: Stoléru et al [7]

This study by Stoléru assessed changes in testosterone and luteinizing hormone in young males who were presented with a neutral and a sexually arousing films on separate days.

The study found that T levels increased within the first 10 minutes of sexual arousal, concluding that T blood levels are influenced by changes in the state of sexual arousal in human males.

Overall Analysis: Escasa [8]

After analyzing the data, Escasa (from the live sex study), found the majority (80%) of studies found increases in men’s testosterone when they watched erotic videos.

So pretty conclusive, then?

Sort of – but there are then some studies that show minimal or no changes.

For example, Carani et al [8] presented 8 volunteers with 2 films – one neutral and one erotic. When T levels were assessed after the film there had been only a small change – too small to be classed as significant. What was significant however was that cortisol level goes down after watching pornographic images  this in theory could still be of benefit, as high cortisol levels decrease testosterone.


Erotic-Images-Increase-T-levels

Key Point: The majority of studies found increases in male hormones when they watched erotic videos.


Final word – Does watching porn increase testosterone levels?

Well, obviously we don’t recommend you flicking through porn images online via your smartphones in between sets – mostly as it’s just plain rude to be on your phone in the gym of course!

Watch it but don’t whack it  visual stimuli seems to be the key, so there’s no need to finish the job so to speak.

There seems to be a decent amount of evidence to suggest that pornography without ejaculation can increase testosterone, and in one example increase physical performance in the squat rack.

In reality, it seems unlikely that there’ll be any significant long term increases in T levels, so to a degree you need to take this with a pinch of salt, but certainly experiment prior to the gym to see if it works for you. Just maybe not in-between sets.


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References

  1. Boone, T et al. Effects of sexual intercourse on maximal aerobic power, oxygen pulse, and double product in male sedentary subjects. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1995; 35(3): 214-7
  2. Sztajzel, J et al. Effect of sexual activity on cycle ergometer stress test parameters, on plasmatic testosterone levels and on concentration capacity. A study in high-level male athletes performed in the laboratory. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 200; 40(3): 233-9
  3. Escasa, MJ et al. Salivary Testosterone Levels in Men at a U.S. Sex Club. Arch Sex Behav. 2011; 40: 921-92
  4. Cook, CJ et al. Changes in salivary testosterone concentrations and subsequent voluntary squat performance following the presentation of short video clips. Horm Behav. 2012; 6(1): 17-22
  5. Seo, Y et al. Plasma concentration of prolactin, testosterone might be associated with brain response to visual erotic stimuli in healthy heterosexual males. Psychiatry Investig. 2009; 6(3): 194-203
  6. Hellhammer, DH et al. Changes in saliva testosterone after psychological stimulation in men. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1985; 10(1): 77-81
  7. Stoléru, SG et al. LH pulsatile secretion and testosterone blood levels are influenced by sexual arousal in human males. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1993; 18(3): 205-18.
  8. Carani, C et al. The endocrine effects of visual erotic stimuli in normal men. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1990; 15(3): 207-16.

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