Can sex increase your sporting performance? The Daily Shift’s David Prendergast investigates…
“Women give you weak legs” – or so snarled Rocky Balboa’s manager Mickey Goldmill during a training session for the boxer’s upcoming bout against Apollo Creed in the 1976 underdog movie, Rocky.
Sex before sport is bad, or so the myth has always gone. But is that actually the case?
The question has garnered attention once again due to recent comments made by Ronda Rousey, MMA’s and UFC’s female champion.
According to Rousey she likes to have as much sex as possible before a fight. This is, she says, because sex raises testosterone levels in girls. Rousey, speaking on Jim Rome’s sport talk show on CBS, clarified herself by saying: “Not with like everybody. I don’t put out Craigslist ads or anything. But if I got a steady I’m going to be like, ‘Yo, fight time’s coming up.”
The theory that sex for athletes before a competition will wear their energy and weaken them has existed a long time. The origin of the belief dates back as far as ancient times to the when the Greeks believed that semen contained a divine energy and that by ejaculating it would be lost.
However, sex burns off between 200 and 300 kilocalories which can easily be restored by simply eating a bar of chocolate or drinking a fizzy drink. In four studies conducted in the United States in the past ten years, scientists have disproved that sex will leave an athlete tired and weak.
Claims that abstaining from sex will help increase aggression due to the idea of sexual frustration have also been discredited. Ian Shrier, author of “Does Sex the Night before Competition decrease Performance?” which was published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, states that sex actually stimulates testosterone therefore it increases aggression, rather than causing it to be lost.
But it seems the best benefits of sex before competition are for female athletes.
Testosterone is important for women because it supports muscle development and bone strength. Having sex the night before a game increases the production of endorphins in women and raises their testosterone levels naturally.
On top of this sex can also help female athletes combat muscle pain. According to a study carried out in 2010 at Rutgers University in New Jersey, when a woman orgasms it stops the release of a specific pain transmitter for up to 24 hours.
Yet despite all this recent research and evidence the myth that sex before a competition will cause both mental and physical fatigue is still held as truth by many in the sporting world.
If science can’t disperse the myth then maybe Rousey’s record will. As well as being the first female champion in the UFC, Rousey is an undefeated MMA champion and none of her opponents have made it past the first round in the cage with her.
This unblemished record makes her unorthodox pre-match routine look very credible indeed.