RELATION BETWEEN SEXUAL ACTIVITY, SEXUAL BEHAVIOR
AND SPORT PERFORMANCE
Faculty of Sports Studies, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic
Sexual abstinence before exercise is ingrained. Present knowledge in these elds
is inconsistent. This paper aims is to relate combat sport performance and sexual
activity. The main goal is to describe the subjective perception of the impact of
sexual activity on the sport performance and potential changes in sexual behaviour
associated with increased training and competition loads at combative sports athletes
and describe the sexual behaviour the athletes have in combative sports. Data was
collected through anonymous questionnaires from 67 athletes actively competing in
combative sports over 18 years old and older. Competitive level of the athlete covers
all levels including regional to national team. The result shows that the frequency
modication of sexual habits before and during competitions at the period when the
burden rises to a competitive level. Frequently mentioned changes in sexual activity
before the competition, was reduced frequency of sexual activity or abstinence. In
the research the athletes indicated that in a 47% they feel some changes during the
sports performance connected to sexual activity and an 83% perceive changes in the
psychological component of their performance. In the psychological component are
changes in most cases posive, but in the opposite in physical component are changes
more negave. The group of athletes which were part of the research exhibited an
increasing appetite for sexual activity and numerous of sexual partners than the
average population in Czech Republic. In light of the results it can be presumed that
there is some inuence of sexual activity or abstinence on combative sports athletes’
performance, even though some research shows the opposite opinion. The knowledge
of this inuence is incomplete and needs another review. Mainly in research effect of
sexual abstinence on sport performance.
Keywords: Athletic performance, sexual abstinence, habits, questionnaires, athletes, effect
The knowledge of this topic has long time disagree with the practices of athletes. In
combat sports, the strongly established abstinence before a sport activity is denitely
not a recent trend. Already in the rst century Greek physician Dr. Aretaeus asserted
that male power can be increased with the retention of semen and even today it is
possible with this assertion meet with prominent trainers (Bishop, 2012). The actual
scientic knowledge varies. Studies show that sexual activity has minimal or no
effect on athletic performance. Johnson (1967) conducted a research on the maximum
power output, from which it emerged that coitus night before a sport activity does not
affect the maximum strength. Likewise, it was shown that sexual activity 12 hours
before the sport activity does not affect the aerobic performance (Boone & Gilmore,
1995). Two hours after sexual activity, showed a minor difference in the heart rate
increased on a cyclo-ergometer, however these symptoms disappeared 10 hours after
sexual activity, which disproved the possibility of inuencing the performance of
sexual activity with sufcient recovery time. Sexual activity at the same time did not
inuence psychical concentration (Sztajzel, Periat, Marti, & Rutishauser, 2000). The
studies until 2000 is integrally summarizes in the work of Shrier and McGlone (2000).
They argue that the information is insufcient and the effect may be highly individual,
at the same time they draw attention to the hypothesis that sexual frustration can
be transformed into aggression that support the performance. The opinions of many
coaches that supports this study, which claims that the dangerous behavior during the
performance could be the behavior often associated with sexual activity (nighttime
activities, lack of sleep, alcohol) (Anshel, 1981). Sexual activity affects the organism
calming effect, reduces stress and suppresses aggression (SayfollahPour, Heidary, &
Mousavi, 2003). Is true that this may become a negative factor in combat sports, where
there is often required a considerable degree of aggressiveness. This is conrmed
by Maria Cristina Rodriguez Gutierrez from the National Autonomous University of
Mexico, which claims that in martial arts sexual activity can lead to passivity and
reduction of aggression (Nieto, 2012). There are also studies showing elevated levels
of testosterone during sexual abstinence (Jiang, Xin, Zou, & Shen, 2003; Krüger,
et al., 2003) (Exton, et al., 2001). Testosterone inuences the anabolic processes
of muscle growth, strength and also is an important determinant of aggressiveness.
This information may lead to a hypothesis of the improvement on the performance in
combat sports during abstinence due to elevated levels of testosterone. Is interesting
that, sexual activity increases testosterone levels, but not increased it chronically, after
the sexual activity the level of testosterone gradually returns to normal (Dabbs Jr. &
Mohammed, 1992). Also the questionnaire methods which is use in this work, have
already been used. Long distance runners rated their feelings of sexual activity and the
effect on its performance. It revealed that there is no effect on their performance 12
hours after sexual activity. In the brief intervals of 30 minutes after the sexual activity
was recorded many changes (Pupiš, Raković, Stanković, Kocić, & Savanović, 2010).
If we look at the sexual activity as physical activity is for us essential energy
expenditure, which the athlete this way will lose. This could play a relatively
important role in the period of increased activity or training before the competition.
Energy output values are relatively low, Frappier, Toupin, Levy, Aubertin-Leheudre
a Karelis (2013) they measured normal sexual activity in a men (age 22.6 ± 2.8)
energy consumption 101 ± 52 Kcal with the intensity 4.2 ± 1.3 Kcal/min. With feelings
of fatigue after sexual activity culminating in orgasm is associated increased levels
of prolactin (Krüger, et al., 2003). Is probably the increased secretion of prolactin
concerns the control of sexual activity (Krügera, Haakea, Hartmannb, Schedlowskia,
& Extona, 2002). Increased secretion of prolactin after orgasm also reduces levels
of dopamine (Robinson, 2004). In terms of performance in combat sports is an
interesting fact that prolactin has a negative effect on testosterone levels (Weiss, et
al., 2010, p. 88). In terms of current sports performance with physical stress comes
to the increased levels of prolactin, but its effects on the efciency of movement and
performance are not described (Kenney, Wilmore, & Costill, 2012, p. 99). The study
of judo athletes pointed a possible link between prolactin and performance in judo.
The winners showed a lower level than losers (Suay, et al., 1999). Sexual activity and
orgasm is associated primarily oxytocin secretion (Krüger, et al., 2003). It is often
referred to as hormone “happiness“ or “love“. Overall leads to calm, credulity and
reduces aggression. There are also links between oxytocin and improve therapeutic
functions within the body (Magon & Kalra, 2011). The rate of secretion in sports load
nor the impact in performance is not known (Kenney, Wilmore, & Costill, 2012, p.
99). Generally oxytocin can induce a feeling of sleep
In sexual behavior, we can assume that martial athletes may have an advantage
when selecting a partner which does not seek long-term partnerships. In general we
can say that an important role is played by the characters associated with testosterone
and indicators of good immunity. For short-term sexual strategies in women are also
important behavioral characteristics (bravery, strength, courage, honor, competition,
creative properties etc.). There we can also include sexual aggression in milder forms
(assertiveness, urgency). It will probably be carried over to their children, and can
be thus to assured a better durability to transferred genes (Weiss, et al., 2010, pp.
657-658). Even successful athletes can play a role in it. Research conducted on elite
cyclists pointed out the connection between success in the Tour de France and physical
attractiveness (Postma, 2014). Among the students were observed differences in
sexual activity between a group of athletes and non-athletes people. It was higher in
athletes (Wetherill & Fromme, 2007; Habel, Dittus, De Rosa, Chung, & Kerndt, 2001).
For the realization of my research, was ensured the anonymity of the respondents
in a selected method questionnaire. The used anonymous questionnaire is divided
into two parts. First part consist of 19 open and close questions where we ask their
subjective perception on the impact of sexual activity and potential changes in the
sexual behavior during an increase of the training and competition loads. The second
part of the questionnaire is made up to 41 opened, closed questions, and it issues
a scale related to the sexual behavior in combat athletes. The research sample includes
67 actively of competing martial arts athletes from 18 years and older. The respondents
were represented from various levels of competition. In total 67% of the respondents
competed at the national level and above, 23% of the then at the international level. In
terms of age distribution were represented by athletes ranging between 18-61 years.
Average age after is 25.9 years, mostly represented then by 24 years old (SD = 5.2). In
terms of experience, competitive sport, the respondents were asked about the duration
of performance in the sport. The average length of performance in the chosen sport
is 8.1 years.
Regardless of whether they perceive changes in their performance in connection
with sexual activity, 34% of the respondents adjust their sexual habits in this period.
While 30% of these respondents do not feel any corresponding changes to their sporting
performance in relation to their sexual activity. An interesting result is that 80% of
the respondents, who regulate their sexual activity, were competing at national and
higher level, where you can assume signicantly higher performance requirements. In
questions regarding physical sport performance showed that a 47% of the respondents
feel some effects. A selected group of respondents 20% perceive positive or rather
positive changes. Only 14% were perceived negative or rather negative changes.
A 14%, of respondents were not able to determine what if changes in terms were
felt or not differently. It turned out that 36% of surveyed athletes perceive changes
in the strength. As a negative perception of these inuences extents to a 24% of the
respondents as positive only 7%. Changes in endurance were perceived by 36%, the
number of negative responses was the same as in the power output. Changes in the
coordination and sensorimotor ability were perceived by a 29% of the respondents
with no signicant trend in the type of responses.
Referring to the theoretical knowledge about endocrine secretion during sexual
activity presented in this work, I believe that the psychological factors in the sport
performance, sexual activity has probably the most pronounced effect. The results
identify with this assumption, since the athletes perceive changes in its mental
component performance in an 83%. More than half (54%) of the respondents, thus
correspond to perceive these changes as “positive” or “somewhat positive”. Negative
responses indicated only 15% of the respondents. For motivation, selected athletes
assess the impact of sexual activity on their own motivation to sports performance as
positive in a 46% and only a 14% as negative. At the level of before starting stress
perceived some changes the 69% of the respondents. Subjectively these changes were
evaluated by a selected group of athletes a 41% with varying degrees of positive and
only a 7% choose a negative response. I believe, however, that the rate of the before
starting stress is inuenced by endocrine primarily oxytocin. This would suggest
these results. Generally orgasm is related to the overall soothing. The results show
that athletes in the selected group usually have sexual activity immediately before
exercise, in order to reduce the level of the before starting stress. On the issue of
feeling fatigue after sexual activity 58% of the respondents show pronounced fatigue
and 20% of the respondents this fatigue usually leads to sleep.
In the research on sexual behavior appeared anticipated trend that martial athletes
are sexually active and feel a greater sexual appetite than the average Czech men. All
67 respondents said they had sexual intercourse with a woman. Average researched
athletes started having sex at 17 (SD = 1.96) years. Therefore, before the average
man in the Czech Rep. in 2008 (17.85 years) (VFN, 2009). Combative sport athletes’
investigation carried out that the rst intercourse with a casual partner was a 48%,
which is only a slightly smaller half. The statutory limit for the rst intercourse of
15 years was violated by a 6% of the respondents. The average of the interviewed
athletes had sex with 10.6 partners during his lifetime. The average Czech man
denounced in 2008 only 9.4 partners. There must also be mention the low average age
of the study sample, which is certainly lower than that of a representative sample of
the Czech population. The average frequency of sexual intercourse with their partners
was 11 (SD = 8.09) in the month. The average Czech man has an average frequency
of intercourse about 2 times a week (VFN, 2009). Athletes le masturbate 15.3 (SD
= 12.33) times per month. This value is more than double the average of the Czech
population in 2008 (7.1 times per month) (VFN, 2009). The 61% of the respondents’
uses masturbation pictorial pornography frequently, then sometimes a 31%. The
average frequency of sexual discharge (intercourse, masturbation, etc.), 19 (SD =
12.5) times per month. Are about two times more than the average Czech men (Game
& Weiss, 2001 p. 53). None interviewed athlete is considered to be gay and each one
of them is sure. An interesting result, however, is the representation of bisexuals.
Interviewees’ respondents indicated this orientation in a 12%. The very concept of
bisexual orientation is not yet well dened (Beňová, et al., 2007, p. 11).
The problematics in the relation between sexual activity and sports performance
affects the absolute majority of athletes. We live in a time of great commercialization
of sport, where science is dealing with different variables that enter or affect the
movement during the performance. Nevertheless, I am forced to conclude that the
evidence in this matter is inaccurate and incomplete. Measurements referred to
this work since 1967 has repeatedly refuted the inuence of sexual activity on the
performance of the movement. These ndings are contrary to the views of a large
part of sports. It is often believed that these effects exist. This belief is often applied
in practice. Research ndings from other disciplines than kinantropology can support
the possibility of a signicant impact of sexual activity on the sport performance.
The results of this study pointed to the fact that the athletes perceive the inuences
of the sexual activity in their performance, and regulate their sexual activities in
connection with the preparation of a competition or the competition itself. Due to
the chosen research methods, the respondents were asked about the impact of sexual
activity on their aggressiveness as the rate of their own aggression is subjectively
difcult-expressible. However, just in aggressiveness it assumes strong inuence on
sexual abstinence and an elevated level of testosterone. The psychological component
performance, where athletes perceived inuences of sexual activities are the most
current research very incomplete. Bearing in mind that the nature of martial arts
whose competitive activity, compiled from non-standard physical activities, which is
constantly changing depending on the circumstances (Kurz, 2001, p. 23), assume that
the effects of the psyche of an athlete may be signicantly reected in his performance.
The sexual behavior conrmed the link between sport and sexual activity known
from research already undertaken see Wetherill & Fromme (2007) and Habel, Dittus,
De Rosa, Chung, & Kerndt (2001). The interviewed athletes showed an increased
sexual activity, number of sexual partners and a desire. There may also be a link
between testosterone levels, attractiveness and sexual activity. With the increasing
attractiveness naturally increases the possibility of access to a sexual partner. At the
same time, the increased of sexual desire lead to earlier expressions of frustration
Previous studies have engaged the acute inuence of in sexual activity on the
sport performance, but the results are measured before and after abstinence. Studies
show that during the abstinence there is an increases testosterone level. Its level by
its nature does not affect the actual sport performance. From the viewpoint of long
term increased of testosterone level, there may be an increased anabolic processes
and an increase of overall strength. Furthermore, its level can affect the athlete’s level
of aggression, which can be a decisive factor in combat sports. However, coherent
results conrm those indications have not yet been published. There is a large scope
for further research which will be approached this issue in a new way and focus more
on the impact of sexual abstinence, rather than the inuence of sexual activities on
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