Saturday, July 31, 2010

Does sexual activity affect stuttering?

This issue is frequently raised in stuttering forums, generating a lot of uneducated comments, reflecting a lot of anxiety, and underlining the fact that so many people who stutter still have very little knowledge of stress and how it impacts on their life and fluency. Stress remains the elephant in the stuttering room, probably in part because it's more fashionable in speech therapy circles to focus on brain scanning research. 

The posts in discussions on sex and stuttering reflect various responses to sex, with some saying that sex negatively impacts on their fluency, particularly after masturbating. Others say that sex improves their speech, and yet others feel that it has no effect on their stuttering. 

Even for those who have a superficial knowledge of stress, the answer is simple. Sex, like stress and stuttering, has a psychological as well as physical side; and sex CAN (but may not necessarily) increase, or decrease, stress and anxiety levels depending on the circumstances. Sex which is accompanied by guilt feelings (which are in many cases part and parcel of masturbation) can aggravate anxiety and stress levels; and we all know that stress (in any of its many forms) is an important component in stuttering, with more stress generally resulting in more stuttering.

Conversely, sex often acts as a release from sexual and other forms of tension, so lowering stress levels and also reducing stuttering. In many cases it does not have an effect on stress at all. 

There really is not much more to it than that. There is not much mystery in the issue of whether sex causes more or less stuttering, if stress is properly understood. A much more interesting question is why people find it so difficult to understand stress. Is it because stress lies in the grey area between psychology and physiology? Are we not yet comfortable with holistic thinking?

IMPORTANT UPDATE: I have been made aware that the increase in stuttering after sex could also be due to the increase in the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. It is known that sexual arousal results in increased dopamine; and some researchers believe that stuttering is caused by an excess of dopamine in the brain. If this is correct, it makes sense that the large amounts of sex-induced dopamine increases stuttering after sex.

Results of my 2013 poll

The results indicate that, for a large majority, sex leads to more stuttering. The question was: "Does sex affect your fluency?" and the results were as follows:

Total of votes: 54
"Has no effect on my speech at all" - 6 votes
"After sex I'm much more fluent" - 7 votes
"Sex makes my stuttering worse" - 41 votes 



  1. This is very nice article of sharing this informational content. These discussions on sex and stuttering reflect various responses to sex is giving lot of informational.

  2. Yes Agree! Stress is misunderstood. Sex or Masturbation can sometime increase stress and sometimes decreases it depends on Situations and Feelings.

  3. My Fiancé never normally stutters, but sometimes, after sex, she loses her abilty to talk altogether or she stutters extremely badly! The first time it happened, I was extremely worried, that she had had a stroke or something, but she was fine again within an hour. It doesn't happen everytime; more so after an extended session where she has reached climax on several occasions.
    Is this normal and what causes it?

  4. As far as I know this is not common, but it can be explained if the principles of stress, threshold and base-level tension are taken into account. Your fiancé probably has a high stuttering threshold, so normally she doesn't stutter. The excitement of intense sex, however, increases her base-level tension significantly so that when she speaks, her speech tension exceeds her threshold so that she stutters. After a while, her base-level tension returns to normal levels and she is fluent. So it's all triggered by high stress levels. Remember that stress is not always caused by unpleasant things - just a kiss can also increase base-level tension. Check out the chapter "A possible cause of stuttering" in my book "Coping with Stuttering" for an explanation of concepts such as base-level tension, threshold and speech tension. I don't think you and her have to worry about it. The stress patterns of people differ; and this is how her stress manifests itself. However I'm not a doctor - if she is worried about it she may want to check with her doctor for eg. high blood pressure. Kind regards.

  5. Sex plays an important role in our lives. It keeps us healthy and happy. Whether you have a long-term partner or you’re enjoying casual sexual activity, it will be a source of self-confidence and happiness.

    If you can’t have sex, however, chances are that your mood will be quite different. Men suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED) will quite often experience anxiety and even depression due to their inability to perform.

  6. Plausible, I've experienced an increase in stuttering on several occasions (Heterosexual male here)

    A few questions on the data...

    Are there any differences in male and female responses?

    Was the sex specified as just 'sex'? The increasingly common interpretation of masturbation as 'solo-sex' can contravene results on this basis as masturbation has been demonstrated to increase anxiety levels (a stuttering trigger) while sex decrease it. Other kinds of sex ie. anal intercourse could yield different results!

    Thanks for the poll btw, I'm conducting a case study into sexual activity and stuttering (using both self reported data and observed data).