Almost every male bodybuilder has wondered if ejaculating too frequently, could hurt their muscle building gains. Some have even recommended holding off for days to help boost their muscle gains.
Sex & Ejaculation effects immediately on testosterone levels
The basis for the argument that ejaculation hurts muscle gains, I believe is probably rooted from the belief that it reduces testosterone. I used to believe the same thing, until I did research on it. From looking at animal and human studies, there doesn’t seem to be any basis that ejaculation will lower testosterone levels immediately afterwards.
Animal studies show a rise in testosterone during mating and arousal. Human studies such as one published in (Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1993;18(3):205-18), have shown men’s testosterone levels rise during sexual arousal and even aggressive activies, such as holding a gun. I have only seen animal studies, that measured testosterone levels post ejaculation. Some of these studies show no changes post ejaculation, while others show a rise in testosterone. No study I have seen, has shown a actual drop in testosterone post ejaculation.
So why is it such a common belief that testosterone drops after ejaculation? I believe this is because men get tired and satisfied after ejaculation, leading people to think it lowers testosterone levels. I believe this mental effect is actually from changes in the brain after ejaculation. An interesting study at Department of Pharmacobiology, Centro de Investigación y Estudios Avanzados. measured the androgen receptor density (how potent testosterone would feel in the brain) after ejaculation. The study showed a decreased density, post ejaculation in rats. The density didn’t return to normal for 72 hours. So, we may feel like testosterone levels in the blood drop post ejaculation, but they actually don’t.
Sex & Ejaculation long term effects on testosterone levels
We have established that there is no short term lowering of testosterone levels from ejaculation, but
many think ejaculating too often can lead to lower testosterone levels long term. The only study that looks at more of a long term effect from ejacualation, was done by chinese group (J Zhejiang Univ Sci. 2003 Mar-Apr;4(2):236-40). 28 men volunteered to not ejaculate for one week. There was no change in testosterone levels for the first 6, then on the 7th it spiked by 47% on average. However, the next day while still abstaining from ejaculation, it lowered quickly back to normal. I believe this is because the large spike in testosterone shut off natural production, until testosterone levels went back to normal. This study tells me that every 6 or 7 days, there may be a large increase in testosterone, if someone abstains from ejaculation. Then testosterone will naturally balance out to normal afterwards. So, long term there doesn’t seem to be much (if any) benefit from abstaining from ejaculation.
Sex & Ejaculation effects on strength
Ejaculation may have a effect on your strength in the weight room. Testosterone has a natural stimulant and energy effect on the brain. High testosterone makes you feel stronger and more aggressive. In that study I cited earlier, it showed a lowering of androgen receptor density in the brain after ejaculation. This lowering could effect your strength because your brain perceives less testosterone, even if it actually doesn’t drop. Ejaculation also releases endorphins into the bloodstream. These are opiates that make you feel sleepy. This is not exactly the ideal conditions right before a workout. If you ejaculate hours before a workout, you might be weaker and have less energy. Since strength gains usually help muscle gains in the long run, ejaculating before a workout would not be a good idea for optimal muscle gains. So in that aspect, sex (or ejaculation) will have a negative long term effect on muscle gains.