The role of sex in male sports performance has been long contested.
The Ancient Greeks believed that sperm provided men with energy and aggression – and that by abstaining from sex, they’d boost their energy and frustration which could then be used on the track or field.
Today, a number of football managers still seem to follow this idea.
Mexico’s football team were made to abstain from carnal pleasures ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, as was the Bosnia-Herzegovina team.
On the other hand, Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola has actually said that having sex might make better players.
‘It’s impossible to play good football if you don’t [have] sex with your partner. I would never ban that. If you are doing it … better players,’ he’s reported to have said.
But up until now, there’s been very little talk about how sex impacts female athletes.
Well, Spartak Moscow’s club doctor, Victoria Gameeva – like Pep – has just come out saying that sex may actually improve women’s performance.
She asked her players to abstain from sex ahead of last night’s game against Liverpool (they lost 7-0 so we might want to take this all with a pinch of salt).
But she says that it’s different for women.
‘From a medical point of view sex stimulates the ability to work only in women,’ she told a Russian TV station earlier this week.
‘In martial arts it happens that a female athlete could fight just five or ten minutes after having sex and her results would be better.
‘But it works the other way round for men. They should avoid sex two or three days before the football game.’
There have been studies into the role of sex and sports performance but there’s still a lack of evidence.
In 2000, 15 high-level male athletes participated in a two-day experiment where they abstained from sex for at least 24 hours prior to the first experiment. On day one, they completed a stress test on a static bike in the morning, a mental test in the afternoon and a second stress test on a bike later in the day.
Between the mental test and the second stress test, blood samples were taken for testosterone measurements.
Then, the athletes were instructed to have sex with their usual partners and the following day, were asked to complete the same tests and have their testosterone levels taken again.
And researchers found that sex had no impact on how the athletes performed – although they had slightly high heart-rate levels during the morning exercise test after having sex.
The conclusion was that ‘the recovery capacity of an athlete could be affected if he had sexual intercourse approximately 2 hours before a competition event’.
But who’s going to be banging two hours before kick-off?
And this experiment again only looked at male athletes and the sample size was negligible so there really is very little way of knowing how sex affects women’s performance.
But feel free to let us know in the comments if you’re a woman who thinks having sex affects the way they operate mentally or physically.