Background: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of sexual activity on cycle ergometer stress test parameters, on plasmatic testosterone levels and on concentration capacity in high-level male athletes.
Methods: Experimental design. Analysis of two days of testing accomplished in a laboratory setting, comparing a day with to a day without sexual activity (control day). Participants. Fifteen high-level male athletes, consisting of 8 team players, 5 endurance athletes and 2 weight-lifters, participated in the study. Measures. Each subject completed the following on each test day: two maximal graded stress tests on a cycle ergometer and a one-hour exercise stress test coupled to an arithmetic mental concentration test. Blood samples of testosterone were obtained and cardiac activity of each athlete was monitored with a 24-hour ECG tape recording over the two test days.
Results: Significantly higher differences were achieved for post-effort heart rate (HR) values at 5 minutes (p<0.01) and at 10 minutes (p<0.01) during the recovery phase of the morning stress test 2 hours after sexual activity. These differences disappeared during the recovery phase of the afternoon stress test performed approximately 10 hours after sexual intercourse took place.
Conclusions: Our findings show that sexual activity had no detrimental influence on the maximal workload achieved and on the athletes' mental concentration. However, the higher posteffort HR values after the maximal stress test on the morning of sexual intercourse suggest that the recovery capacity of an athlete could be affected if he had sexual intercourse approximately 2 hours before a competition event.