Does Skipping Sex Before the Big Game Really Give Athletes a Leg Up?

Science has finally nailed down the ideal timeline

July 28, 2016 9:00 am

It’s a fact-or-fiction query old as man himself:

Does getting in on before a competition negatively affect athletic performance?

The ancient Greeks and Romans thought abstinence would lead to better rest and less aggression. But they also believed that Uranus’s genitals were severed by his son Cronus, father of Zeus, and thrown into the sea, from which rose Aphrodite.

And while Muhammad Ali was famous for abstaining for up to six weeks before a fight, Ronda Rousey believes that severe of a drought can lead to a decrease in testosterone for men. (Conversely, Rousey says she has as much sex as possible before a fight, as it raises testosterone levels in women.)

But to bring some clarity to the long-time debate, five Italian researchers recently reviewed nine studies published from 1968 to 2013 and culled what could be considered the common-denominator timeline for when to, uh, pull out.

Their consensus? Getting busy 10 hours before a competition: go for it. But if it’s two hours or less before gametime: hold your horses. The conclusion hinges on a survey of 15 top male athletes that found the one who had done a little horizontal mambo two hours before riding stationary bikes had eight percent higher heart rates than normal. Meanwhile, the athletes who hadn’t had sex for 10 hours or more kept a normal heart rate.

Still, the researchers admit the studies did not adequately take into account sleep, nutrition, masturbation frequency or the unique physical and psychological challenges a specific sport presents. They also acknowledged that they need more intel on “the effect of a multi-orgasm one-night stand” on ahtletic performance.

But overall, they recommend you heed the 10-and-2 rule. “The present evidence suggests that sexual activity the day before competition does not exert any negative impact on performance,” reads the review.

Science aside, the most solid advice we’ve ever heard on the matter comes from Hall of Famer Casey Stengel:

“Being with a woman all night never hurt no professional baseball player. It’s staying up all night looking for one that does him in.”

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