Medicine is a no-embarrassment zone, so we're going to answer a question that's been sent to us repeatedly: does sex or masturbation affect athletic performance?
Why do we think the two might be related? Simple—it's because both require great blood flow. That's right; the same blood flow and arteries that allow dilation of blood vessels—which increase blood flow to your muscles—are also needed for sexual arousal. So keeping your arteries able to dilate is key for both activities. You can achieve great arteries with a diet full of healthy fats, carbs and protein.
As an athlete, you have many things to think about when it comes to having sex before an event. Even though research shows that having sex or masturbating does not affect your stamina or quick reaction time in athletic performances, you do need to think about other effects.
You may worry that being aroused and having that much physical activity beforehand may take away your energy, and you won't be able to play at the top of your game. Don't worry about that; instead, your main risk is being distracted by that hulk or babe who's been flirting with you. Was that person sent by the other team's captain? Or will you get an STI?
Your main problem will be having too many thoughts about sex or worrying about something your partner said, instead of focusing on defeating your opponent. Relationships will come with time—but right now, hone in on your athletic performance and what it takes to win.
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Michael F. Roizen, MD, is Professor of Internal Medicine and Anesthesiology, Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. He has co-founded 12 companies, including the popular websites RealAge.com and YOUBeauty.com.
Mehmet C. Oz, MD, is Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University and director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital. His TV show—The Dr. Oz Show— recently won its third Emmy, with Dr. Oz his second as the best daytime talk show host.
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