The ‘No Sex Before Sports’ Adage Might Be Myth After All by

The ‘No Sex Before Sports’ Adage Might Be Myth After All

Posted on Friday, October 14th, 2016


Heard the adage that having sex before a major sports event decreases your athletic performance? Or the old Rocky line: “[Sex] weakens legs”? A study set out to determine the truthfulness behind that belief and determines that it’s most likely a myth. Albeit a popular one. The study, “Sexual Activity before Sports Competition: A Systematic Review,” is published in Frontiers in physiology and written by: Laura Stefani, Giorgio Galanti, Johnny Padulo, Nicola L. Bragazzi and Nicola Maffulli.

The study gathered data from previous related experiments in what’s called a systematic review. Using scientific databases and Google Scholar, the authors discovered 130 past examinations that analyzed the subject and scrutinized those previous studies according to a criteria dubbed PICO:

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  • P (population): athletes (at any level, national and international and practicing any sports discipline);
  • I (intervention/exposure): having sexual activity before a competition/match;
  • C (comparison): studies comparing athletes reporting sexual activity vs. athletes not having sexual intercourse before a competition/match, where such comparison has been performed;
  • O (outcome): impact of sexual activity on performance.

Only nine studies matched their standards. The scientists not only looked at sexual activity and performance, they also conducted observations on sexual abstinence and sports performance. This systemic review searched for negative impacts on muscle strength, aerobic performance and coordination. None of the referenced studies displayed signs of detrimental performances linked with sexual activity. The authors did note studies that observed psychological effects of abstinence and concluded that any such bans had a neutral effect. Meaning good and bad. If athletes were experiencing sexual frustration, this could distract and hinder their achievements while playing; likewise engaging in intercourse prior to a big sports event could weaken the competitive urge of a player by making them feel too relaxed.

The systematic review study also highlighted other correlating factors. Smoking, lack of sleep and alcohol consumption were prevalent causes in lieu of sexual activity. The authors noted that females weren’t highly studied as males, even though one study showed a positive impact for female athletes.

The authors of this study point out that more research is necessary. Previous studies were poorly designed and didn’t account for gender and sports types. “Many studies did not use appropriate scientific methods on the possible impact of sexual intercourse.” For those worried that having sex or masturbation might impact their performance, the authors provided a short solution:

It appears important to maintain an athlete’s own sexual activity in terms of normal physiological behavior, and to avoid possible association with incorrect lifestyle habits, such as tobacco, alcohol or drugs abuse. At least a few hours should pass between sexual intercourse and sports competition.

Want to read more about this study? Click here.


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