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Published on December 10th, 2013 | by Joe Starks

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Athletic Science: Sex and Athletic Performance

Since the early 50s and 60s there has been this rumor that professional athletes should not have sexual intercourse before an important match or competition. There were various explanations for this attitude. Many considered the act to be physically tiring and draining the energy from athletes when they most need it. Others believe that it is the emotional stress that comes with having sex which ruins an athlete’s performance. Science has since looked into the matter and the results are quite surprising. In this article we’ll have a clear, scientific look on how sex can affect athletic performance, before a game and in general.

How does sex affect athleticism?

Many studies have been made with both male and female athletes training after sexual intercourse and after abstinence to test the difference. Most studies found no significant difference between the two groups, suggesting that the sexual act itself didn’t affect their performance.

Those who studied whether sex actually boosted athletic performance were equally disappointed as it seems there was no advantage in having sex before a game or training session.

So, why is there still this myth about sexual intercourse ruining athletic performance? Well, scientists say that the matter might be more complicated than one might think. After all sex is usually followed by other behaviors, which may be harmful to your athletic performance yet might not be related to sexual intercourse directly.

For instance some people can’t keep away from a smoke after sexual intercourse. Smoking ruins athletic performance and that has been scientifically proven again and again. So, someone who feels tempted to smoke every time they have sex will have a negative sex-athletic performance correlation, which actually stems from a bad smoking habit and not the sexual act itself.

Others feel it necessary to have some alcoholic beverage before relaxing enough to have sexual intercourse. Alcohol too ruins athletic performance both mentally and physically. This also has been proven by many studies, so having a drink before or after sex can actually be the reason why you can’t perform at an event afterwards.

One of the things that also can cause a negative correlation between sex and athletic performance is that some people sacrifice sleep in favor of sex. Sleep deprivation can cause dramatic effects on one’s performance in athletic events. This is why if one wants to have sex they should not do it by sacrificing sleep time.

It is important that sex does not disturb any of the athlete’s important and healthy behaviors, like sleeping, hydrating and eating enough calories to compensate for training. Having sex should not be an excuse to use mood altering substances or indulge in unhealthy habits.

There is also the issue of what kind of sexual intercourse you actually have. It is not the same to make love to a steady partner as it is to have a one night stand with a stranger. The first might be a relaxing and comforting routine, while the second can be an emotionally draining, stressful situation. One can’t consider the two to be the same. With one night stands come anxieties like sexual transmitted disease, uncomfortable emotional distance and stressful behaviors.

It is generally considered that steady relationships offer sex that is absolutely harmless to athletic performance.

Sex is Bad for Sports: Myth or Fact?

Sadly enough, the studies that have been made weren’t very large or very specific, so we can’t exclude any bad effects on athletic performance with a 100% certainty. What we know is that there has been no proof that sex affects athletic performance in any way.

There has been some proof that behaviors related to sex can disturb your performance in various ways, so if you want to have sex before a big event you should abstain from alcohol, cigarettes, extremely fatty food and from depriving yourself of sleep.

If you can have sex without adding any bad behaviors to it, then there is no reason to abstain before a match or before training. Until science finds solid proof that sex does affect athletic performance in any way, good or bad, it is simply a waste to not have sexual intercourse whenever you want!

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