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Summary: A new study debunks abstinence theories and suggests athletes should not feel guilty when engaging in sexual activity up to the day before competition.
Sex before sport doesn’t have a negative effect on the athlete and could even benefit performance.
Over the course of the Rio Olympics, 450,000 condoms were distributed around the athlete’s village. This may be surprising considering the common view that abstinence from sexual activity can boost athletic performance.
These long-standing views have now been challenged by a recent analysis of current scientific evidence, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Physiology.
“Abstaining from sexual activity before athletic competition is a controversial topic in the world of sport;” said Laura Stefani, an Assistant Professor of Sports Medicine at the University of Florence, Italy, and lead author of this review;”We show no robust scientific evidence to indicate that sexual activity has a negative effect upon athletic results.”
The authors sifted through hundreds of studies with the potential to provide evidence, however big or small, on the impact of sexual activity upon sport performance. After setting a number of criteria to filter out the most reliable of these studies, only nine were included in the review.
One of these found that the strength of female former athletes did not differ if they had sex the night before. Another actually observed a beneficial effect on marathon runners’ performance. While these small handful of studies provided some clues about the real effects of sex on sport performance, Dr. Stefani and her colleagues were disappointed with the research on this subject to date.
“We clearly show that this topic has not been well investigated and only anecdotal stories have been reported;” explained Dr. Stefani; “In fact, unless it takes place less than two hours before, the evidence actually suggests sexual activity may have a beneficial effect on sports performance.”
The review also revealed that males were more frequently investigated than females, with no comparison of effects across genders. In addition, it highlights that cultural differences in attitudes towards sexual activity may influence how much or how little impact it may have. Dr. Stefani emphasizes other factors that have been ignored.
“No particular importance has been laid on the psychological or physical effects of sexual activity on sports performance, or upon the different kinds of sports.”
This is an important point, given each sport’s different mental and physical challenges.
This review demonstrates the need for proper scientific investigation into the impact of sexual activity on sport performance, clarifying any ethical, gender and sport differences.
The authors conclude that because the current evidence debunks the long-held abstinence theories, athletes should not feel guilty when engaging in their usual sexual activity up to the day before competition.
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Source: Michelle Ponto – Frontiers Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain. Original Research: Full open access research for “Sexual Activity before Sports Competition: A Systematic Review” by Laura Stefani, Giorgio Galanti, Johnny Padulo, Nicola L. Bragazzi and Nicola Maffulli in Frontiers in Physiology. Published online June 21 2016 doi:10.3389/fphys.2016.00246
[divider]Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article[/divider]
[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]Frontiers. “Sex Before Sport Doesn’t Negatively Impact Performance.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 4 October 2016. <https://neurosciencenews.com/sport-sex-performance-psychology-5204/>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]Frontiers. (2016, October 4). Sex Before Sport Doesn’t Negatively Impact Performance. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved October 4, 2016 from https://neurosciencenews.com/sport-sex-performance-psychology-5204/[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]Frontiers. “Sex Before Sport Doesn’t Negatively Impact Performance.” https://neurosciencenews.com/sport-sex-performance-psychology-5204/ (accessed October 4, 2016).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]
Sexual Activity before Sports Competition: A Systematic Review
Sexual activity before competition has been considered as a possible cause for reduced performance since ancient Greece and Rome. Recently, the hypothesis that optimal sport performance could be influenced by a variety of factors including sexual activity before competition has been investigated. However, few scientific data are available, with the exception of anecdotal reports of individual experiences. The present systematic review focused on the current scientific evidence on the effects of sexual activity on sport performance regardless of sport type. Data were obtained following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, using PubMed/MEDLINE, ISI/Web of Science, the Cochrane Collaboration Database, Cochrane Library, Evidence Database (PEDro), Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) Search review, National Guidelines, ProQuest, and Scopus, all searched from inception further, to broaden the search, no time filter nor language restriction have been applied. Also, the gray literature was mined using Google Scholar. Only relevant scientific articles reporting outcomes of athletic performance after sexual activity were considered. The impact of sexual activity before a sport competition is still unclear, but most studies generally seem to exclude a direct impact of sexual activity on athletic aerobic and strength performance. The most important aspect seems to be the interval from the time of the sports competition that affects negatively the performance if it is shorter than 2 h. There are possible negative effects from some possible concurrent wrong behaviors such as smoking or alcohol abuse. There are no investigations about the effect of masturbation in this context. There is a need to clarify the effects of sexual activity on competition performance. The present evidence suggests that sexual activity the day before competition does not exert any negative impact on performance, even though high-quality, randomized controlled studies are urgently needed.
“Sexual Activity before Sports Competition: A Systematic Review” by Laura Stefani, Giorgio Galanti, Johnny Padulo, Nicola L. Bragazzi and Nicola Maffulli in Frontiers in Physiology. Published online June 21 2016 doi:10.3389/fphys.2016.00246
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