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Can Sex or Masturbation Prevent You from Making Gains in the Gym?

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There's a trope, especially in the world of sports, of guys abstaining from sex or masturbation prior to a competition so that they'll be aggressive and surging with testosterone once they start competing. 

 While these stereotypes are a bit far-flung– and soccer great Cristiano Ronaldo, who has spoken about playing better when he's had sex before a match, is a counterpoint to this theory– there are still a lot of guys who believe that they should abstain from sex or masturbation when they're competing or training.

They often theorize that immediately after ejaculation, the body's testosterone levels are lower than normal. Since testosterone plays an important role in muscle growth and stamina, if it is reduced for any reason, it's going to have an effect on your ability to make gains. 

But how accurate is that belief? Let's break it down. 

What Does the Science Say?

The short answer: no, masturbation and sex do not affect your testosterone levels, and will not stall or diminish your physical training progress. 

The longer answer is slightly more complicated but reaches the same conclusion. 

One landmark study by Fox, Ismail, et al. found that plasma testosterone naturally fluctuates over the course of a day, but these fluctuations have no direct relationship to sexual activity, masturbation, or orgasm. 

Another important study by Purvis, Landgren, Cekan, and Diczfalusy indicated that some hormone levels, including testosterone, were actually slightly elevated in the blood immediately after masturbation. While they did detect some elevated hormones, these increases were not significant enough to help with muscle building or athletic performance, nor were these increases in baseline testosterone levels permanent. 

This is supported by Isenmann, E., Schumann, M., Notbohm, H.L. et al's research which found that there could be a correlation between testosterone levels and masturbation, but the results were not significant enough or with a large enough sample size to be entirely conclusive. 

Enjoy Your Personal Time Without Worrying

Sex, masturbation, and having an orgasm do not have a significant impact on your testosterone levels and won't impede your gym progress. 

The main "risk" is that since having an orgasm often helps people feel more relaxed, you may not be motivated to hit the gym after some time alone. 

A little pre-workout, however, and you're as ready to exercise as ever. Just make sure you wash your hands before touching the gym equipment. 

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