We have been hearing and reading for years that athletes cannot, or should not, have sex before competing. This is why we have proposed to see what is true and false in that statement. Let’s see where this “tradition” comes from and what science says about it.
Having sex with a stable partner is the most normal thing in the world, but in the sporting arena, and when it comes to elite athletes, it is not so normal. It is a controversy that has always kept thousands of people in suspense.
The absolute truth does not exist, but there is science and scientific studies that have been done about it. It is that information on which we are going to base ourselves. Throughout the text we will make it clear whether or not the sexual act can be done before a competition, since this question has transcended ordinary athletes, and before a marathon in their city they avoid having sex the day before.
This debate of sex yes or sex no, the night before a game or a competition, is not a recent thing, nor from the 50s that the world of sports was a bit (quite) heteropatriarchal, but that it comes from much earlier, centuries ago.
There are coaches who forbid it, others who leave it to free choice, there are even cases in which they strongly recommended it. There are also controversial cases such as cameras in the rooms or the famous anti-sex beds of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
What does history say?
The prohibition of having sex before competing comes from afar, as far back as ancient Greece . At that time it was said and believed that semen contained magical substances that were what gave men power and made them virile and capable of everything.
It was really thought that it was a liquid full of power and magic, and if a man expelled it to the outside (he ejaculated) he lost that power and that divine force and, therefore, he was not going to play as well or function properly. .
Based on this theory, many have been formed as to why man falls asleep after ejaculating, he does not lose his powers, he simply remains worn out after exertion. Excuse enough to give that magical, mystical, spiritual and secret touch to the semen.
Now, with science in hand, the story changes a lot and that is what we are going to explain in the following sections. We will know what benefits sex gives and what science has researched about it.
What data does science have?
In 2016, Frontiers in Physiology conducted a large-scale study testing nearly 20 elite athletes. That same study analyzed another 500 previous studies carried out throughout history that were interested in the same topic, that is, the positive or negative relationship between sex and sports performance.
In the research, the athletes performed maximum effort tests on an ergometer under two conditions, having had sexual intercourse 10 hours before training and having had sex 2 hours before the tests. Both values were taken into account.
The results did not vary, these 16 successful athletes performed equally well both in maximum values, as in concentration during physical activity. Where there were variations was in the heart rate during the stress test that was carried out in the 2-hour test.
Therefore, if there is more time between intercourse and training or competition, there would be no problems or lack of effort. Science has not really been able to definitively conclude that having sex the night before affects negatively , it has only shown that 2 hours is the minimum time to be able to recover.
In the next section we explain in more depth the subject of sex and what it means for the physical and mental state, since in sport not only does performance count and being the fastest, the mind must also give 100%.
Sex before competing, yes or no?
The favorite sport of many, the cardio that they would never miss, but putting jokes aside, making love involves a high expenditure of calories and a great effort for the body.
Sex affects both the physical and the psychological plane, in men and women. Having sex regularly promotes the production of testosterone, a hormone that goes hand in hand with muscle strength and power. After ejaculation, men suffer a sharp drop in that testosterone, so they can feel weak and tired, but these levels recover quickly.
And here the science says that it is not recommended (for men) to have sex before competing if there is less than 2 hours between ejaculation and sports practice.
Women do not suffer that drop in testosterone, so female athletes should not be prohibited from having sex before a competition, although here (both men and women) comes the experience and each person, sexual encounter, situation and so on. it is completely different.
We know that having sex releases oxytocin and endorphins, in terms of sports, these hormones help us to reduce the sensation of pain. Apart from this, having sex secretes serotonin and will make us feel good, comfortable and happy, in addition, our stress levels will be reduced considerably.
Having sex helps us sleep better and rest more. Otherwise, sexual abstinence can cause bouts of depression and make us feel sad and frustrated, resulting in poor performance on the pitch, less team spirit, less energy, etc.
Some experts recommend having sex the night before training or competition, if you like, nobody forces anything. But they say that this act must be of low physical exhaustion, that it does not affect rest, nothing to stay up all night or make great efforts.