(Last Updated on October 10, 2023)
If you’ve been around the health and wellness discussion for a while, you’ve probably heard a lot about the benefits and risks associated with fasting.
Everything from your blood sugar and cholesterol levels to your circadian rhythm and gut health is supposed to benefit from this practice.
‘But how about my sexual health,’ you’ve probably been wondering.
Or, if you’re like most people interested in this, you’ve heard that it’s good for you and also bad for you.
Well, not for much longer, we hope. In this article, we aim to shed some light on the relationship between fasting and sexual health.
You will find that there are many factors involved, and these may have different impacts.
So, without wasting any time, let’s get right into the subject, beginning with the most obvious question.
The answer to this question is Yes – for better or worse (which we will find out about shortly), fasting does affect your sexual health to some degree. In particular, there are multiple aspects that it affects, and we will also discuss those in a bit.
However, it’s worth noting that much of the popular understanding of how fasting can affect your sexual health is based on anecdotal evidence.
Moreover, of the few studies that have been performed on the issue, some indicate adverse effects, and others indicate positive effects.
That’s the reason you may have heard many conflicting views on the subject.
However, we should bear in mind that outcomes often depend on physiology, type of fasting practiced, duration, and other factors.
Ultimately, it’s best to know your body and have a discussion with your doctor about how fasting can impact your sex life.
That being said, let’s talk about the aspects impacted by this exercise.
Sexual libido is perhaps the most popular aspect of sexual life on which people report positive or negative impacts.
When done as a religious activity, both halves of a couple often fast together, which may impact the libido of both partners.
So, is fasting good for you and your partner’s sex drive?
Anecdotally, some people claim it does increase sex drive, both personally and as a general claim.
For example, Javanese Philosopher Damardjati Supadjar says that fasting in the month of Ramadan frees the blood from digestive duties so it can flow into the genital area.
Similarly, some women also report an increase in sex drive after fasting.
However, this is not universal, and especially for men, it does not appear to be supported by studies.
For instance, according to a 2022 study on the impact of intermittent fasting on the sexual health of men, the opposite is the case.
The study indicates that the sexual desire of the men decreased significantly by the end of Ramadan month.
And while basically all the studies have been focused on men, reports from most women indicate the same conclusion.
Energy levels are a major contributing factor to sex performance, and those tend to go down during fasting.
However, the outcome is reportedly different in the case of intermittent fasting.
Some people, especially women, may report some noticeable increase in libido, potentially thanks to consistency and a greater focus on healthier eating than on weight loss.
This is an area of impact for men, and it is surely a major concern for many considering fasting.
No one wants to come out of Ramadan, Lent, or any personal fasting endeavor with issues arising, so to speak.
Unlike in the case of libido, the anecdotal and scientific evidence seems to be mostly in agreement on the impact of fasting on erectile function.
Many studies show that fasting can lead to a significant reduction in testosterone levels in men, which then leads to erectile dysfunction.
However, the operational word here is “can” because you will also find that the outcomes depend on many factors.
Relative body size and level of sexual activity are two of the most known factors in the relevant studies.
For example, a 2022 paper on the impact of fasting on the sex hormone levels in men and women found that non-obese and sexually active males experienced a decrease in testosterone levels after intermittent fasting.
Conversely, a 2020 study on dietary habits and erectile function indicates that a combination of organic diet and intermittent fasting actually protects against erectile dysfunction.
Similarly, the libido study we talked about earlier also examined the impact on erectile dysfunction, and it found no significant increase in it.
Evidently, the outcome you get depends on more factors than just the exercise itself.
To put it simply, the question of whether fasting reduces fertility in humans is contentious, as the studies raise many questions and answer almost none.
What we do have are studies on fish, and these show that sperm and egg quantity, as well as quality, were significantly reduced during periods without food.
The body simply redirected more of its resources into maintenance and spent less on sperm and egg production, hence the reduction in quality and quantity.
The consensus among medical researchers is that more research is needed to determine if this applies to humans.
Our non-expertly advice? It’s best to be on as healthy and robust a diet as possible when trying to make a baby with your partner.
That means no baby-making on Ramadan or Lent (you probably shouldn’t be doing that anyway).
So, what does all this mean for you and your sexual health?
Evidently, there is a lot that needs to be taken into account to decide if fasting is ultimately good for your sexual health and performance.
Quite evidently, you won’t necessarily have much energy to engage while fasting, especially when it’s an intense and prolonged fast.
Moreover, all bodies don’t necessarily work the same, which means you have some likelihood of experiencing, say, increased libido, whereas most may report reduced libido due to fast.
Ultimately, if you are considering fasting, it may be best to prepare mentally and reach an agreement with your partner to forgo sexual engagement until the end of your fast.
Once done, you can then begin a regimen of healthy diets and exercise to boost hormone levels and increase libido and performance.
Very importantly, you should keep in contact with your doctor and nutritionist the whole time.