Sex and the impact it has on sports performance

Sex and its relationship to sporting performance has long been debated.

There are some well-known connections in the sporting world. Boxers are said to have to abstain from sex before a big fight and the Olympic village has a particularly raunchy reputation. 

The importance of testosterone and sex is particularly common when it comes to combat sports. Rocky Balboa’s trainer declared “women weaken legs” in the film ‘Rocky’. There are more concrete arguments, however, former MMA Champion Ronda Rousey said she tried to “have as much sex as possible” as she believed it was linked to more testosterone in women. 

Tyson Fury is never one to shy away from entertaining opinions on all matters but sex has been of particular interest to Fury. Before his first fight with Deontray Wilder, he publicly declared he was abstaining from sex for three months. This all changed before the rematch as alongside this unusual tactic: “I’ve been doing a lot of p**** licking to strengthen up my jaw up,” he also claimed to be masturbating seven times a day with a view to raise his testosterone levels. 

The Mexican football team was said to have been instructed to abstain during the 2014 World Cup. This could only propel them to the Round of 16, before they were defeated by the Dutch team 2-1.  

In terms of the Olympic village, there is a great history of the Olympics and intercourse. Over 1,000 years ago in Athens, there was an opinion that athletes should abstain from sex so as to build up frustration and aggression to be used in competition. While this is still a common route for many athletes in the village, Rio 2016 was statistically extremely horny. The organisers were said to have handed out up to 450,000 condoms for just the 12,000 athletes competing. While the Winter Olympics in 2018 reportedly handed out 38 condoms per competitor at the games. This would seem to debunk the theories on athletes choosing to abstain.  

Now to the scientific analysis of the topic. In truth, it is relatively limited. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness and the Frontiers in Physiology both concluded there to be no significant effect from sex on athletic performance after separate experiments. The only factor seeming to play a part was sex that occurs just before sport, one study found recovery took slightly long when sexual activity happened within two hours. There is also a slight warning to those whose sport requires great concentration as it might have an impact.

It will be obvious from this article that sex and sport are so often intertwined but this is not limited to the athletes. Superstitions grip the most loyal of sports fans but one of the very best was told to me recently about a devoted fan of the England football team, who chose not to partake in any sexual activity the night before he watched his beloved England play. You can only admire such dedication to the cause. 

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Oscar Ress

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August 2022
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