There’s tons of back and forth over whether abstaining from sex for days, even weeks, before a big event is a bad idea. Some experts believe skipping out on sex at least 48 hours before competition is best since anything closer to game day may relax you too much and decrease aggression and testosterone, crucial to certain sports, like wrestling, boxing, MMA, and football. Then again, if you’re a quarterback, marathoner, or golfer, sex could be just the thing to calm frazzled nerves. Read How Sex Affects Your Workout for the full rundown.
“Abstaining from sexual activity before athletic competition is a controversial topic in the world of sport,” lead study author Laura Stefani said in a press release. But she notes: “We show no robust scientific evidence to indicate that sexual activity has a negative effect upon athletic results.”
One study observed former female athletes; they found their levels of strength didn’t differ whether or not they had sex the night before an event. Another body of research discovered a beneficial effect sex had on marathon runners’ performance.
“We clearly show that this topic has not been well investigated and only anecdotal stories have been reported,” Stefani adds. “In fact, unless it takes place less than two hours before, the evidence actually suggests sexual activity may have a beneficial effect on sports performance.”
The review also revealed males were investigated far more than females, but didn’t note any comparison on the effect of sex across genders. There’s also no real evidence on the psychological or physical effects on sport performance. But they do note cultural differences and attitudes toward sex can influence how much or how little of an impact it has. All of these factors need to be studied in a proper investigation, the researchers conclude.
Bottom line: Relax, the current evidence debunks long-held abstinence theories, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about engaging in your typical sexual escapades up to the day before competition.
So long as you’re not trying anything acrobatic or out of the norm from your normal sexual behaviors, or getting laid as a result of going out really late, smoking, drinking, and the like, you shouldn’t experience any harmful side effects from sex in and of itself.
By Brittany Smith