The 2022 Winter Olympics are here. From February 4th to February 20th, the whole world will tune in to watch the very best athletes of our time come together to compete for the ultimate prize – a coveted gold medal. As we watch these beautiful human specimens perform mind-blowing physical feats, you may find yourself thinking about how they might perform in their spare time, if you know what I mean. (Wink. Wink.)
Of course, I mean sex. Are Olympians having sex during the Olympics? Does it affect their performance? Do Olympians have better sex that the rest of us? If Olympians make babies, will it lead to a superhuman race of ridiculously ripped creatures who take over the world? OK, maybe not the last one, but it’s clear that we wonder about these things, so here’s what we know about the not-so-secret sex lives of Olympians.
The History of Olympic Sex
The link between the Olympics and sex goes back as far as written record, and in recent years, fascination with the sex lives of athletes in general and Olympians in particular has reached an all-time high. First off, the answer is yes – Olympians are having sex at the Olympics and likely have been having sex at these games since ancient Greek times. They have so much sex, in fact, that Grindr (then a website) crashed in 2012 when athletes began arriving in London for the games there.
To promote safe sex, condoms have been given out to athletes participating in the Olympics since the 1988 games in Seoul when they were introduced to raise awareness about HIV prevention. In 2000, the number of condoms distributed rose to 90,000, and during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, organizers handed out a record-breaking 450,000 condoms to athletes. Beijing has not given a prophylactic count, but organizers have said that free condoms will be available there as well.
Even though the reputation of the Olympic Village as a massive hook-up spot has become common knowledge, it’s not necessarily condoned. Conservatives in the Mormon capital of Salt Lake City held protests at the 2002 Winter Olympics when they found out that 100,000+ condoms were distributed there.
It was also rumored that the cardboard beds provided to athletes during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan were put in place to dissuade athletes from using the beds for anything other than sleep. (For the record, Olympic officials denied this and insisted the beds were made out of cardboard for ecological reasons only.)
In addition to the morality police, coaches and athletes themselves can also be firmly planted in the no-sex-before-competition category. Instead of puritanical reasons, these anti-sex stances are rooted in the long-held belief that having sex before competition can reduce your strength, concentration, speed and agility. In other words, many people believe that having sex before competition is literally for losers.
Sex or No Sex?
So, what does the research say about sex and athletic performance? Actually, not much. There have been very few studies done on the subject, and they have mostly been done on men. That being said, from the research that is available, it seems that the general consensus is that sex does not affect athletic performance in any detectible way.
One study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that 15 high-level athletes between the ages of 20 and 40 showed no significant difference in mental or physical performance when they were tested after having sex the night before and after abstaining from sex the night before. Testosterone levels were not affected, either. The study did, however, show that there was a slight elevation in heart rate in the mornings after sex, but the difference did not affect the outcome of the other tests.
Another study, done by researchers at California State University, San Marcos, found that among 12 healthy men with the average age of 25, leg strength (hamstring and quadricep torque specifically) and endurance did not change when they were tested the day after they had sex and the day after they abstained from sex. They also didn’t self-report any differing feelings of physical or mental fatigue.
There is some speculation that sex before an athletic competition can have psychological effects. For instance, if you had an unsatisfying sexual experience before a game or match, you might suffer from feelings of self-doubt or a lack of confidence. In contrast, if you had the best sex of your life, you might feel like such a stud that you perform better mentally and physically. For obvious reasons, it’s even more difficult to conduct scientific experiments based on the quality of sex so research in this area is lacking.
Go for the Gold
Whether you’re an elite athlete training for the Olympics or you’re an armchair quarterback, there’s no scientific reason that you should abstain from sex before the big game. However, athletes tend to be more in tune with their bodies than the average Joe, so they may have their own unique take on how sex affects their performance, and they may prefer to abstain or not based on their own experiences.
One thing is for sure, though. When the Olympians have finished competing in Beijing and the final medals have been awarded, many of these amazing athletes will no doubt decide to celebrate by going for the gold of a different kind. So remember, if the Olympic Village is a-rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’!