There's been a theory, dating back to ancient Greece, that athletes should refrain from sexual activity the night before a major event. But is there anything to that? And, since the practice began in an era before both sexes competed in sports, does it apply to women?

The reason all this came up is an interview given by female MMA [mixed martial arts] champion Ronda Rousey on Wednesday. She told sportscaster Jim Rome that she thinks lots of sex before one of her matches helps her win;

"For girls, it raises your testosterone so I try to have as much sex as possible before I fight actually."

Is Rousey on to something? Surprisingly, Science's best answer is a definite "maybe".You'd think somebody would have done serious research on the question before now. But the answer there is a definite 'no' [is this a doctoral paper just waiting to be written?].

There is some circumstantial evidence; Muhammad Ali claimed he abstained for six weeks before a bout, while runner Marty Liquori said:

'Sex makes you happy. Happy people don't run a  3.47 mile.'

Then there's Ian Shrier, of Montreal's McGill University. He argues that, based on the few tests on the subject, having or not having sex the night before the Big Game doesn't seem to matter. In physical terms, anyway.Abstaining may play into somone's psychological preparations, but physically, it doesn't seem to matter.

Israeli physician Alexander Olshanietzky steps in with a slightly different theory. Based on his studies, female athletes may actually benefit from some pre-sport sex. In 1996, he noted;

'Coaches generally tell their athletes to  abstain before competition. In the case of women, that's the wrong  advice.'

That theory, also, remains mostly unexplored. It looks like the best advice is to do what you want the night before, and then your best at the event. Either way, good luck.

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