Sex Ed

Does Sex Affect Athletic Performance? Here’s What The Latest Research Says

June 25, 2018 by Justin Lehmiller


Many athletes abstain from sex before major sporting competitions because they (and sometimes their coaches) are worried that getting it on might have a negative impact on their performance. For instance, British boxer Carl Froch recently abstained from sex with his spouse for three months while preparing for a major fight. Froch actually held out twice as long as famed boxer Muhammad Ali, who reportedly *only* abstained for six weeks before fights. Likewise, Mexican soccer coach Miguel Herrera encouraged his players to avoid sex while they prepared for the World Cup in 2014.

So should other athletes take a cue from these guys? Is there any truth to the idea that sex and sports don’t mix? A new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine offers some insight, and it’s the subject of my latest column over at TONIC.

In this study, researchers looked at whether young men’s muscle strength and endurance (specifically in their legs) was impacted by whether or not they had sex 12 hours beforehand. All men were tested twice (once following sex and once when they had abstained).

So what did they find? Nothing. There was no difference in the amount of muscle strength exerted during the test regardless of whether men had sex the night before.

This is consistent with a larger body of research finding that there just isn’t a clear or consistent effect in men or women. However, some data does suggest that having sex very close to a competition (i.e., within two hours) might be another story. To learn more about what research on sex and athletics has revealed, check out the full article over at TONIC.

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To learn more about this research, see: Valenti, L. M., Suchil, C., Beltran, G., Rogers, R. C., Massey, E. A., & Astorino, T. A. (2018). Effect of Sexual Intercourse on Lower Extremity Muscle Force in Strength-Trained Men. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 15(6), 888-893.

Image Source: 123RF/Petr Joura

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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