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Does orgasm frequency have any effect on one's hormonal balance?

by (1195)
Updated about 7 hours ago
Created September 25, 2012 at 11:47 PM

This may seem like a strange and hopefully not too provocative question, but many people who have gone paleo report having better libidos. Obviously one's libido is effected in part by one's hormone balance which we know is effected by food/sleep/exercise/etc. My question is, does the frequency of orgasm also effect one's hormone balance and is there an optimal frequency for maintaining a "youthful" hormonal profile? The answer may not be the same for men and women. For example, I know in Traditional Chinese Medicine, frequent ejaculation is considered bad for men because it weakens their kidney chi. Some men are able to separate orgasm from ejaculation in order to get the obvious benefit without the negative. I think this isn't considered a problem for women in that system.

By the way, I am not trying to be pointlessly provocative. This whole move to Primal/Paleo has me thinking about everything in life in a fresh way. I have always enjoyed myself frequently and have also always been mistaken for someone much younger than I actually am. This is also true for the handful of other people,men and women, I know who have shared this personal information with me. Is there any cause and effect? Maybe it's just the stress relief? Does cortisol lower immediately with release? I am curious what you think.

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538 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

levels do not 'plateau' they spike, then rapidly fall.

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218 · September 27, 2012 at 11:05 AM

LOL...So true (and sad).

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1195 · September 27, 2012 at 10:46 AM

I am sorry, but the Quackwatch guy has little credibility in my opinion. Anyone who has had acupuncture knows there is something to it. When they put a needle in a certain point, you can feel the energy immediately traveling down that meridian. You feel a tremendous sense of well-being and so many people have been helped by it. Just because "Science" doesn't know how to measure it doesn't mean it is not real. And I am a university mathematics professor who doesn't accept without question the latest new-agey idea.

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd
1195 · September 27, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Wow! Thanks. That's just what I was looking for and I assume it means I can take my consistently high activity as a good thing. I am 48 and there seems to be so much variation between my same age women friends. Many of us became mothers about nine years ago and for some that meant the end of being sexual. In my case, the drive has been higher than ever!

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3979 · September 27, 2012 at 8:12 AM

tbph, It's been nearly 4 months for me. I've got my reasons, though: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postorgasmic_illness_syndrome

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11557 · September 27, 2012 at 1:09 AM

Throwing out the baby with the bathwater when you disagree with nitpicky details is not very productive. I don't agree with everything a doctor supposedly believes, and I don't agree with everything a naturopath supposedly believes- I see values for BOTH however. That's why it's called *complementary medicine*. They're there to compliment each other.

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5006 · September 26, 2012 at 11:45 PM

Gotta be careful there is not a national security "breach".

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14877 · September 26, 2012 at 10:18 PM

...and are there any 40 year old women on the planet who are not total cougars? I think this is a normal part of the aging process and has little to do with eating a paleo diet or not.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc
14877 · September 26, 2012 at 10:14 PM

This is very true. I know 2 girls who admit to not doing hanging leg raises on the dip station because it over-stimulates them. P

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3979 · September 26, 2012 at 10:00 PM

Hey, that's my line! :P

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8014 · September 26, 2012 at 9:18 PM

@Boro - makes me think of that Seinfeld episode. Twenty seconds in, Kramer emerges from the bathroom, slams his money on the table and says, "I'm out!" ;-)

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8014 · September 26, 2012 at 9:16 PM

"The hubs and I have two toddlers and zero energy for sex." I don't think there's anything wrong with you. I think you have two toddlers. 'Nuff said.

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8014 · September 26, 2012 at 9:12 PM

I've always assumed it was a boost in testosterone b/c of the lifting. Don't know if that's it or not, but it makes sense.

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8014 · September 26, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Ditto. I work at the Pentagon, and there's a great gym here. Plenty of women in there, but it's *loaded* with guys. I've always had a majorly elevated libido (am I allowed to use the "H word" on PH?) after lifting and it's wild b/c there are all these strong men walking around. If they only knew what I was thinking!! (Then again, they're probably thinking the same thing about me...)

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538 · September 26, 2012 at 6:06 PM

boro.... haha seriously! no orgasms? what a terrible idea!

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11478 · September 26, 2012 at 5:48 PM

Is there a link between increased testerone levels and hairy palms / blindness?

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571 · September 26, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Tiger penis is obviously paleo.

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11478 · September 26, 2012 at 5:47 PM

10-12 weeks of abstinence? I've never managed 10-12 hours...

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1195 · September 26, 2012 at 5:17 PM

OK, I agree there are certain aspects of some branches of TCM that are questionable, but I don't think their practitioners are just one homogeneous group that all believe and practice the same things anymore than we do in the West. We have plenty of diversity or method and opinion in Standard American Medicine (as most of us agree by our decision to go Paleo in spite of what our doctors may tell us). Are we really going to say a particular ancient system has no validity because some peripheral aspect of it seems bizarre to us?

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3979 · September 26, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Yes, absolutely. I seem younger in appearance and demeanor when I abstain.

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538 · September 26, 2012 at 1:46 PM

If you keep the orgasms coming then by definition the long term T levels would increase. Just as resistance training increases metabolism for a short period, if you kick start that every ~ 48- 72 hrs by doing another bout of training then your metabolism stays elevated. If the long term levels of anything are the aggregate of short term levels strung front to back continuously then it is unavoidable that many short term increases in T would add up to an overall long term avg increase.

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571 · September 26, 2012 at 1:17 PM

Traditional Chinese Medicine, LOL! Don't they eat tiger penis for this type of concern?

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515 · September 26, 2012 at 1:05 PM

This does make sense. But I bet the effect is very short-lived. To my knowledge sexual activity has never been shown to have any long-term effects on T levels.

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193 · September 26, 2012 at 11:59 AM

I would agree with the ' use it or lose it' mentality. Ever have to abstain for any particular reason, then when you do partake in either masturbation or sex you wonder why you simply don't do that every day???

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1195 · September 26, 2012 at 9:54 AM

That's interesting. So men who do it every day have lower T levels than they would if they just partook once a week. I am also very aware of some of my women friends who seem to have just quit being sexual in their forties. In those cases I have assumed "use it or lose it" might apply.

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405 · September 26, 2012 at 3:19 AM

I ALWAYS WONDER ABOUT THIS! I've had, on average, about one orgasm per day for at least the past 3 years so I've been wondering whether there's some benefit or harm. I also wonder if there's some effect from, um.. 'natural family planning' on female hormones. Hey, if topical progesterone creams have an effect, why wouldn't sperm? But I digress..

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193 · September 26, 2012 at 12:15 AM

I agree..this is making me think. I know for me the more the better in keeping me balanced in all aspects of life. I have noticed an increased libido for sure but I wasn't sure if it was due to age ( just turned 40) or the paleo... ( started it about the same time as my birthday). I would have to wonder if it's the actual ' orgasm ' or the connection you have with your body that gives you a youthful glow???

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11048 · September 25, 2012 at 11:53 PM

Interesting concepts posed!

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10 Answers

B6c16d850e7305aad0507ad079ecf1d4
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232 · September 26, 2012 at 12:23 AM

"I think more than orgasm frequency having an effect on hormonal balance, is hormonal balance having an effect on orgasm frequency." I agree, well said

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3979 · September 26, 2012 at 10:00 PM

Hey, that's my line! :P

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538 · September 26, 2012 at 12:35 PM

It has been shown, unequivocally, that mens serum testosterone levels will shoot up significantly by watching erotic movies or pictures. this has also been demonstrated to happen when speaking or interacting with new or attractive women and the morning after sex with a partner (well above the normal am peak). based on this, I think it inescapable that orgasm frequency (from sex) would have a pretty significant impact on a males hormones. I can't say with confidence but it probably holds some level of truth for masturbation too. sorry gals but I haven't read anything on how orgasms might effect your hormones.

Long term abstinence (~8-12 weeks has been shown to significantly lower testosterone levels in men. the only study I've seen that shows an increase in T is one where men abstained for 8 days (maybe more) the T levels didnt change until the 7th day where they were significantly elevated, on the 8th day the T levels rapidly fell back to baseline or a bit below due to negative feedback suppression of Leutenizing hormone.

Sex is good. Sex feels great. Sex is healthy. Sex will positively effect your hormones.

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538 · September 26, 2012 at 6:06 PM

boro.... haha seriously! no orgasms? what a terrible idea!

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11478 · September 26, 2012 at 5:47 PM

10-12 weeks of abstinence? I've never managed 10-12 hours...

81181cab058dd652659e4bb2e6f25843
538 · September 26, 2012 at 1:46 PM

If you keep the orgasms coming then by definition the long term T levels would increase. Just as resistance training increases metabolism for a short period, if you kick start that every ~ 48- 72 hrs by doing another bout of training then your metabolism stays elevated. If the long term levels of anything are the aggregate of short term levels strung front to back continuously then it is unavoidable that many short term increases in T would add up to an overall long term avg increase.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7
3979 · September 27, 2012 at 8:12 AM

tbph, It's been nearly 4 months for me. I've got my reasons, though: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postorgasmic_illness_syndrome

A39237551dac75eb36335098b0f5fa61
515 · September 26, 2012 at 1:05 PM

This does make sense. But I bet the effect is very short-lived. To my knowledge sexual activity has never been shown to have any long-term effects on T levels.

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8014 · September 26, 2012 at 9:18 PM

@Boro - makes me think of that Seinfeld episode. Twenty seconds in, Kramer emerges from the bathroom, slams his money on the table and says, "I'm out!" ;-)

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25467 · September 26, 2012 at 10:08 PM

you might be interested in this paragraph from a recent post I did from here.

"What else might we consider to do? T2D have metabolic inefficiencies from their disease, and this implies low intracellular magnesium levels, low DHEA levels, and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is strongly associated in the gut with altered production of Vitamin K2 from our gut flora. Exogenous vitamin K2 can help people with insulin resistance, menopause, peri-menopause, and andropause. We can also use vitamin K2 to sensitize them to insulin helps further. In artificial light environments we find alterations in the gut flora because it become simplified. Simplified means lower shear numbers of bacteria and decreased species of bacteria. When this happens as we mentioned in Brain Gut 9, we dont not make enough vitamin K2 from our gut flora.

This often will increase their androgen levels too. Often times, it may give them their lost libido back too. One of the clinical signs I ask about in these cases is the ease and power of their orgasms. This usually shocks people initially. Then when they think about it, they realize that their libido and sexual performance has also lost its power and luster too. When this axis is reengineered, women often report they seem to climax easier. They also the depth of the experience of orgasm is back to when they were young. In MJ???s guest blog (BG-10), this discussion caught her totally by surprise. I told her and Danielle that a good orgasm is like great exercise, because hormonally, sex and exercise do the same things to our brain. They increase the anti-oxidant protection of our brain to ROS from any cause! The duration and intensity is the only major difference in this case. Oxytocin is the second most powerful anti-oxidant in the brain and lowers inflammation and makes neurons more reduced chemically as we see in normal sleep. Recently, I have noticed more older women asking about exercise induced orgasms done during abdominal crunches on a ???Captain???s Chair??? machine at their gyms. They seem to be experiencing them more often now and are wondering if it is pathologic or normal. The response I give is that it means their hormones are approaching what they were when the 17-25 years old and that is a great clinical sign their circadian cycles are becoming entrained back to normal once again. It is hard to get a women to this point who is not doing a lot of this right, but it can be done with persistence and the knowledge of the clinician. There is a cite below that discusses this phenomena. It not a mirage. It is a clinical sign a women is re emerging back to optimal. This is how ???Stella found her groove??? again."

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14877 · September 26, 2012 at 10:14 PM

This is very true. I know 2 girls who admit to not doing hanging leg raises on the dip station because it over-stimulates them. P

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc
14877 · September 26, 2012 at 10:18 PM

...and are there any 40 year old women on the planet who are not total cougars? I think this is a normal part of the aging process and has little to do with eating a paleo diet or not.

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd
1195 · September 27, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Wow! Thanks. That's just what I was looking for and I assume it means I can take my consistently high activity as a good thing. I am 48 and there seems to be so much variation between my same age women friends. Many of us became mothers about nine years ago and for some that meant the end of being sexual. In my case, the drive has been higher than ever!

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1195 · September 26, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Part of my question was about apparent youthfulness. Has anyone noticed markers of youthfulness, like clear bright eyes, good skin, overall vibrancy in people (maybe themselves) whom they know enjoy themselves frequently? And conversely, older characteristics in those whom they know never do? Granted, people might not do it much if they were sick or depresse,d which would greatly hinder their likelihood of passing as someone much younger, but let's throw those cases out.

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3979 · September 26, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Yes, absolutely. I seem younger in appearance and demeanor when I abstain.

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3979 · September 26, 2012 at 12:05 AM

I think it has some effect, but not a lot. I think more than orgasm frequency having an effect on hormonal balance, is hormonal balance having an effect on orgasm frequency. You can certainly alter your hormones temporarily through abstinence or otherwise, but you won't change your body's natural patterns or homeostasis.

For example, I notice significantly more vitality when I abstain for several weeks. I enjoy greater concentration, energy, social lubrication, general well-being. But I don't think it makes me a more virile person, just more virile in the moment.

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779 · September 26, 2012 at 10:28 PM

'Traditional Chinese Medicine' is just that, traditional. Chinese tradition is not superior to European tradition, just different.

Anyone who attempted to practice 'Traditional European Medicine' would (rightly) end up in jail. Traditional concepts like 'balancing humours,' and the matching 'signatures' to illnesses, have long been disproved and given up in practice.

Chinese medicine has no tradition of critical assesment. Traditions were passed down without question. Thus China banned 'traditional' medicine until Mao chose to revive it in the 1960s.

A good place to start homework: http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/acu.html

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1195 · September 27, 2012 at 10:46 AM

I am sorry, but the Quackwatch guy has little credibility in my opinion. Anyone who has had acupuncture knows there is something to it. When they put a needle in a certain point, you can feel the energy immediately traveling down that meridian. You feel a tremendous sense of well-being and so many people have been helped by it. Just because "Science" doesn't know how to measure it doesn't mean it is not real. And I am a university mathematics professor who doesn't accept without question the latest new-agey idea.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194
11557 · September 27, 2012 at 1:09 AM

Throwing out the baby with the bathwater when you disagree with nitpicky details is not very productive. I don't agree with everything a doctor supposedly believes, and I don't agree with everything a naturopath supposedly believes- I see values for BOTH however. That's why it's called *complementary medicine*. They're there to compliment each other.

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8014 · September 26, 2012 at 9:06 PM

Take it from someone who hasn't had an orgasm with someone else in the room for quite a while (sigh).....and from someone who was so stressed out and unhappy in her job/life that it ultimately led to estrogen dominance...

Here's what I think:

If you're having sex regularly (or even, um, "taking matters into your own hands," if ya know what I mean) and achieving orgasm, then it stands to reason that your stress levels might be a little lower. (You're a little more relaxed b/c you've been gettin' some...even if it's by yourself...you still get some of those feel-good chemicals.) If your stress levels are a little lower, you're likely preventing what they call the pregnenolone steal -- where so much of your pregnenolone goes toward making cortisol to keep up with all the stress and it gets siphoned away from making the other things pregnenolone ultimately leads to -- estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

The interesting thing for me is the causality -- are your hormones better balanced because of the orgasms, or is your libido better because of balanced hormones, which makes you want to have sex/orgasms more often? Which leads to which? I don't know, but I suspect it can be both, depending on a person's individual situation.

Overall, as a general, sweeping observation, I think it all works together. Better physical health, better psychological health, better/more positive/optimistic moods, better libido, more self-confidence, increased desire for sex -- just being healthier, feeling more alive, and more vibrant ALTOGETHER.

Edited to add: after reading cbucker's answer, I think my answer applies more to sex with a partner than by oneself. Part of what makes people feel better and have all those happy little butterfly feelings is the excitement/warmth/whatever of being with someone else - someone who loves you and whom you love. It'd be interesting to see if there is any difference wrt masturbation vs sex with a partner, or even regular sex in the context of a loving relationship vs, say, an "escort service" or something.

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218 · September 26, 2012 at 12:03 PM

I think that is a great question! Not a clue about the answer, but I'd be willing to experiment a little to see if it balances out my hormones, lol.

Joking aside though, without oversharing, I can tell you that my hormones are way out of wack. They have been for most of my twenties (29, now). They have gotten worse over the last few years and there might be an interesting correlation between my, ahem sex life. The hubs and I have two toddlers and zero energy for sex. I think I may just try it out more and see what happens!

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8014 · September 26, 2012 at 9:16 PM

"The hubs and I have two toddlers and zero energy for sex." I don't think there's anything wrong with you. I think you have two toddlers. 'Nuff said.

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218 · September 27, 2012 at 11:05 AM

LOL...So true (and sad).

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515 · September 26, 2012 at 4:35 AM

Not really. I looked at this at one point, since the question of orgasm/masturbation and acne comes up often. Basically abstinence increases testosterone levels, which makes the person want to.. errr.. participate in sexual activities. Increase in T levels plateaus at day 7. Orgasm and ejaculation drops T levels back to pre-abstinence lavels.

I only looked at T and not other hormones. And only in males. I have no idea about women.

EDIT

Looks like I remembered this wrong. I just checked the source again. It seems T levels peak at day 7 of abstinence, but there was no significant change to T levels on days 2 to 5. Here's the study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12506329

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538 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

levels do not 'plateau' they spike, then rapidly fall.

Ef32d6cc543a74319464e2100e5a9ffd
1195 · September 26, 2012 at 9:54 AM

That's interesting. So men who do it every day have lower T levels than they would if they just partook once a week. I am also very aware of some of my women friends who seem to have just quit being sexual in their forties. In those cases I have assumed "use it or lose it" might apply.

61ea4896b1ef898345051dcfadd70073
193 · September 26, 2012 at 11:59 AM

I would agree with the ' use it or lose it' mentality. Ever have to abstain for any particular reason, then when you do partake in either masturbation or sex you wonder why you simply don't do that every day???

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5006 · September 26, 2012 at 1:12 AM

I noticed elevated libido after weight loss and now HIGHLY elevated libido post workout.

Matt

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5006 · September 26, 2012 at 11:45 PM

Gotta be careful there is not a national security "breach".

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8014 · September 26, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Ditto. I work at the Pentagon, and there's a great gym here. Plenty of women in there, but it's *loaded* with guys. I've always had a majorly elevated libido (am I allowed to use the "H word" on PH?) after lifting and it's wild b/c there are all these strong men walking around. If they only knew what I was thinking!! (Then again, they're probably thinking the same thing about me...)

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f
8014 · September 26, 2012 at 9:12 PM

I've always assumed it was a boost in testosterone b/c of the lifting. Don't know if that's it or not, but it makes sense.

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