Home Section D - Opinion Ask Dr. P

Ask Dr. P


Dr. Galdino Panzarone


Dear Dr. P,

I am a female athlete. I heard that if I have sex with my boyfriend the night before a game, I will have more endurance and strength. Is that true? What about for my boyfriend?


Athletic and “Active”

Dear A&A

Sports coaches have long, and erroneously, advised their male athletes to “save your strength for the game tomorrow. Don’t drain it away with sex before the big game!” If now coaches are giving their female athletes the same warning, then they also are misled—if sexual outlet were the only factor in the night before the athletic event.

This false belief originated the Pre-Victorian and Victorian “Semen Conservation Theory” that is part of European, Ayurvedic and Chinese sexological mythology. A good reserve of “vital bodily fluids,” specifically semen, was thought to be essential for masculinity.

Semen was such a vital substance that retaining it by abstinence or minimizing sexual outlet for the male in ejaculations was thought to promote health, strength and well-being (not to mention frustration and horniness!)

More often than not, the belief was aimed at reducing and preventing adolescent masturbation. “You’ll go blind. You’ll have disease, like TB. And you’ll lose strength.”

Semen Conservation Theory still exists in various forms and for various religious and mystical traditions today. Most advocates have little or no knowledge of the scientific research done in this area. And it has been done with champion athletes!

Chidley (1996) studied the athletes at the Atlanta Olympic Games. Performance was not affected, according to Chidley (1996).

“Although the commonly believed benefits of sexual abstinence have a long tradition, the majority opinion among athletes, coaches, and physicians now is that sex itself has little or no effect on sporting performance.”

When so many perfect specimens of youthful and beautiful humanity congregate in one place, such as the Olympic Village Dormitories, romance and sex cannot be avoided.

In fact, for the recent Beijing Olympics, one of the “necessities” available to athletes who needed these was a plentiful supply of condoms (hundreds of thousands of these!).

Many performance records were broken by the Beijing athletes, both male and female. In sports, that is.

Now a warning: Lack of rest and sleep and drinking may be the actual factor that reduces athletic performance, not the sex itself.

Staying up all night in amorous entanglements in bed can rob you of the sleep you need for good performance on the field. Go to bed early to sleep, not to work-out.

Ovid, an ancient Roman poet and sexologist said that there are only two animals that glow and crow after sex—a rooster and a woman.

Ovid was referring to the observation that women are energized by good sex and can continue as opposed to men who seem fatigued and want to sleep after sex.

So, Athletic and “Active”, there might be a benefit for a woman athlete in sex before the big game. But just don’t forget the sleep, which is even more essential to your on field performance.

Conservatively yours,

Dr. P

Dr. Galdino Pranzarone is a professor of psychology at Roanoke College