We take a look into what science and scientists have to say about sex and athletics and how the activity affects performances.
●14th February 2023
The discussion of sex and athletics dates back to Greece more than a thousand years. Back then, the idea was that refraining would lead to increased dissatisfaction and anger, which would ultimately boost performance. It appears that the roles have reversed: at the Rio 2016 Olympics, a staggering 500,000 condoms were distributed to the roughly 12,000 participants. 42 per person is still a respectable 80+ “engagements” per person. It appears that modern athletes think having sex improves their athletic performance.
However, the argument continues, and professional athletes can be found on both sides of it. So what does science have to say?
According to scientists, there isn’t any scientific proof that having sex before a competition is detrimental. In fact, several studies contend that pre-sports sex may benefit sportsmen by, for instance, increasing their testosterone levels. What psychological effects sex might have on an athlete’s performance is not known, though. Some scientists contend that abstinence might improve concentration in some athletes.
“There are two possible ways sex before competition could affect performance,” said Ian Shrier, a sports medicine specialist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. “First, it could make you tired and weak the next day,” Shrier said. This has, however, been disproved. “The second way is that it could affect your psychological state of mind. This has not been tested,” he said.
In the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine in 2000, Shrier wrote an editorial titled “Does Sex the Night Before Competition Decrease Performance?” The “long-standing belief that athletes should practice abstinence before key competitions may derive from the theory that sexual frustration leads to increased hostility,” the author stated.
Power sports, where violence is valued as a skill, like boxing and football, have a particularly strong abstinence history. Some people think that ejaculating causes the body to release testosterone, the hormone associated with both sexual desire and violence. “This is a really wrong idea,” said Italian University of L’Aquila’s Emmanuele A. Jannini Prof. Jannini has researched how sex affects athletic performance in endocrinology, the science of physiological fluids. According to Jannini, sex really accelerates the creation of testosterone, which increases violence. “After three months without sex, which is not so uncommon for some athletes, testosterone dramatically drops to levels close to children’s levels,” he said. “Do you think this may be useful for a boxer?“
Scientists reject the notion that having sex the night before a competition makes an athlete tired or could make their muscles weaker. After all, making love is not an especially taxing activity. Typically, sexual activity between married partners only burns 25 to 50 calories, or around the amount of energy needed to climb two flights of stairs.
According to Barry Komisaruk, a psychology professor at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, sexual activity may really aid women who are suffering from muscle soreness or other sports-related injuries. According to his research, sexual excitement in women has a potent pain-blocking effect. In the case of persistent pain, such as muscle discomfort, the impact, according to him, can last for as long as a day.
Additionally, Komisaruk discovered that vaginal stimulation has a significant impact on leg muscular tension, with some women experiencing an increase and others a decrease. The psychological impacts of sex on sports performance are far less well understood. According to some experts, coaches may promote the abstinence idea just to make sure that young players receive enough rest before a big game. There is a perfect balance between alertness and anxiousness that is required to create the finest results, according to psychologists. Poor performance may be the outcome of excessive worry or hostility.
“If athletes are too anxious and restless the night before an event, then sex may be a relaxing distraction,” Shrier wrote in his study. “If they are already relaxed or, like some athletes, have little interest in sex the night before a big competition, then a good night’s sleep is all they need.“
According to Shrier, the outcomes will rely on personal preferences and routines; she also stressed the importance of consistency. “In general, an athlete should never try something before an important competition that they have not already tried in lesser competitions or practice,” he said.
According to Italian researcher Jannini, different athletes react differently to sex. “Some personalities need more concentration. In this case sex may be a bad idea,” he said.“For other athletes a bit of extra aggression could be the difference” between winning and losing, Jannini said. “In this case I would suggest a complete and satisfactory sexual intercourse the evening before the game.”