Sexual frequency and heart rate variability in a Portuguese non-clinical sample: Preliminary results

Sabrina Gomes, Rui Miguel Costa, Paula Mangia, José Pestana, Mafalda Pinto Coelho, Catarina Correia


Greater vaginal intercourse frequency has been related to greater resting heart rate variability (HRV) as indicated by the standard deviation of the heart rate, which can express a combination of greater sympathetic and parasympathetic activity. The present study examined associations of several HRV parameters with sexual satisfaction and several sexual behaviours. Sixty men and 85 women reported their past month frequency of vaginal intercourse, noncoital sex, and masturbation, and completed the sexual satisfaction subscale of the LiSat (Life Satisfaction) scale. The HRV parameters were calculated from a five-minute recording period and include standard deviation of the heart rate, standard deviation of the NN intervals, low frequency power, high frequency power, and low to high frequency ratio. Vaginal intercourse frequency correlated with greater sexual satisfaction in both sexes, and with greater standard deviation of the heart rate in women. The other HRV parameters were uncorrelated with vaginal intercourse frequency. Sexual satisfaction was uncorrelated with all HRV parameters. Vaginal intercourse frequency might be facilitated by greater parasympathetic tone concomitant with a moderately greater tonic sympathetic activity.


Heart rate variability, Sexual frequency, Intercourse, Sexual satisfaction, Autonomic nervous system.


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