Men, Sex, and Testosterone

A urologist's view on men and sexuality.

Elections and erections

Will Democrats or Republicans have more sex on Election Night?

As Election Day draws near, I just have to wonder how the outcome will affect the sexual behavior of US citizens. Specifically, I am curious as to whether voters who identify with the winning party on Tuesday will be more sexually active that night than those who cast votes for the losing party in the presidential election.


Although not scientifically rigorous, there are a number of studies and circumstances that lead one to believe that the victors will have more sex. In one study of intercollegiate soccer players, saliva concentrations of testosterone increased after a victorious match, and were increased the most in those whose abilities were rated highest by teammates- in other words, in the best players who presumably were most responsible for the victory(Edwards, DA et al, Physiol Behav 2006). In another study, participants included eight male fans attending an intercollegiate basketball game between two rivals, and 21 male fans watching a World Cup soccer match between two international rival teams. At the end of the matches, salivary testosterone increased among fans of the winning teams, and decreased among fans of the losing teams (Bernhardt PC et al, Physiol Behav 1998).

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Now, an increase in salivary testosterone does not necessarily lead to more sex. But it does provide some physiological basis (if we need one) for the observation that men tend to be more sexual when we win. In looking up the relevant phrase "To the victor go the spoils," I found this apt and unintentionally humorous explanation online: "In a war or other contest, the winner gets the booty." Presumably, the author of that line was unaware of the current idiomatic meaning of "booty." Humor aside, there seems little doubt that men feel more virile, more powerful when they are successful after an important contest, whether it represents success at the office or on the playing field. And presumably this applies to the ballot box as well. The first use of the actual phrase, "To the victor go the spoils," is attributed to an 1832 election speech by New York Senator William Learned Marcy.


Among friends and associates, it is not unusual to hear stories of implied Celebration Sex: eg, "My parents told me I was conceived when my father was promoted to partner at his firm," or "I was conceived on the day my father became a US citizen." So, I have to wonder whether nine months from November 4, 2008 we will see a boom in births of Republican or Democratic babies corresponding with whichever party wins the Presidential election.

Abraham Morgentaler, M.D. specializes in male reproductive and sexual health, and is a professor of urology at Harvard Medical. more...

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