Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Debora Baldwin

Committee Members

John Lounsbury, Wes Morgan, David Bassett


Scientific literature is abundant with studies examining the physiologic effects of various physical and/or psychological stressors to animal and human organisms. A current review of the literature includes a number of studies examining the effects of one such stressor - sexual or copulative activity - on various rodent species. No such empirical examination of responses has been found utilizing human participants. The present research examined the physiologic effects of sexual activity on the salivary secretory Immunoglobulin A (SIgA) and salivary cortisol levels of married individuals after sexual activity, when compared to their levels prior to activity. Twenty-four married couples submitted saliva samples and answered questionnaires prior to and after a bout of their regular sexual activity. Gender differences in these levels were found. Results also indicated that both S-IgA and salivary cortisol levels rose significantly after sexual activity in both male and female participants. The magnitude of these changes was not significantly different between males and females. Additionally, in males, S-IgA levels after sexual intercourse were inversely related to duration of intromissive activity. No relationship between frequency of sexual intercourse per week, or psychological affect and S-IgA levels was found. Implications are discussed.

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