We all have heard the famous myth that having sex before fights may decrease fiscal performance. This myth was not limited only to fights but all sports activities, especially those of competition. But what is the basis for those who claim this?
A bit of history
This discussion is not a recent topic. Ancient Greek, Roman, and Chinese civilizations already spoke about the negative influence of sex before a competition. In 444 b.C., Platon (Greek philosopher) argued that “Olympic competitors before races should avoid sexual intimacy.”
However, centuries later, in 77 b.C., Pliny the Elder (Latin writer, scientist, naturalist, and military man) wrote that “when athletes lack energy, making love can revitalize them.”
Likewise, before one of the big fights in the Rocky Balboa movie, Mickey, Rocky’s trainer, tells him that “women weaken the legs.” Closer to reality, different athletes echoed this belief and adopted it as their own in the real world.
In the ring, the one who took this theory the furthest was Muhammed Ali, the greatest heavyweight of all time, who claimed that he did not have sex until six weeks before a fight.
Many coaches require their pupils to abstain from sex before competitions, whether for a few days, weeks, or months. But on what basis do they say this?
There is a false belief that semen retention in men boosts their strength, endurance, and virility so that having sex would cause a temporary decline in all these physical faculties.
Other trainers believe that “sexual frustration leads toi ncreased aggression, and that ejaculation draws testosterone, the hormone of sexual desire and aggression, out of the body.” Other reasons coaches state are:
- It deconcentrates the competitor.
- It loosens the legs. This could be the most popular reason for athletes. Floyd Patterson, world champion in the heavyweight category, expressed, “I say this from my experience. I have had sex a few days before a fight, and I have fought with an irresistible tiredness in my knees”.
Also, Maikro Romero, known as the king of the ring of the International Boxing Federation in the 90s, said, “The sport is a lot of sacrifices. When the competitions are closed, we must limit ourselves from being with a woman. Fifteen or twenty days before, you can’t have sex because it loosens your legs.”
- It can cause an injury.
- It rarely comes alone.
This could be one of the most settled reasons, as many couples ingest liquor and foods that affect weight and physical performance. In the end, the trainers lock up their clients 15 days before the fights.
- This habit may have a psychological component. If you think that having sex before a fight will affect your performance, it will. All athletes need to be sure that they have done everything right before the stellar moment, so the mental factor will play against them if they leave something out.
- Because you want to “kill” the opponent to go to bed. In his article on the influence of sex before women’s fights in the UFC, Dr. Michael Kelly later concluded that“maybe there is a psychological drive. Men become more irritable when they don’t have sex, which is probably a good trait when in the ring with someone. Somaybe it’s less of a physical effect and more of a psychological impact.”
In an interview with Ronda Rousey for Real Sports, she states that“testosterone levels in women rise after sexual activity, which is good for competition”and helps to counteract stress and anxiety levels before a competition.
This news generated controversy since Ronda Rousey, the UFC champion, denied the famous myth followed by so many coaches and athletes.
After years of studies, reviews, and works, we know a direct positive relationship between sex and sports performance. But how can this be explained?
Francois Peinado, professor of Urology at the European University of Madrid, assures that “sex can influence sport in a positive sense.” Also, “its practice involves are lease of endorphins and a general relaxation of the body so that its consequences would be favorable since it offers calm and increases the mood.”
At a physical level during sex, “there is are lease of neurotransmitters that results in a general relaxation of the organism, and, at a psychological level, there is a calm with an intense feeling of happiness.”
In a doctoral thesis entitled “Sexual Activity, Sport and Health-Related Quality of Life,” from the University of Valladolid, Spain, the author analyzed the effects of sex on sports performance and highlighted:
- Sexual activity does not have a short-term negative impact on sports performance.
- Activation of the sympathetic nervous system has a slight heart rate-enhancing effect on athletic performance.
- Sexual activity can be interpreted as an exercise that positively affects health, well-being, and longevity.
- Sexual satisfaction is directly associated with a higher quality of life, while prolonged abstinence may be associated with depression, low testosterone levels, and aggression.
Thus, sexual abstinence should not be required for athletes. Jesús Rodríguez, director of the Murcian Sexological Institute, explains, “sexual relations with in a framework of normality, with a stable partner, in which they do not affect the sleep pattern or hours of sleep and which are not associated with other activities such as drinking alcohol or smoking would have a beneficial effect on various psychological aspects of the athlete’s performance”.
Finally, the latest studies disprove that abstinence for several days is unnecessary and even harmful and suggest that as long as there is an hour between sex and competitions, there will be no negative repercussions on sports performance.