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Does Masturbation Decrease Testosterone Levels?

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: December 28, 2021

Masturbation is often thought to lower testosterone levels, suggesting it can lead to serious health problems.

I was concerned about the effects of masturbation on my goals to increase muscle mass and maintain healthy testosterone levels.

As a result, I decided to conduct research and go through all the clinical studies and scientific evidence to clarify those claims.

In this article, I'll get right to the point and explain how masturbation affects testosterone levels and your overall health.

Let’s begin.

Article Summary

  • Testosterone levels in the body often vary depending on various factors. Sometimes they can vary throughout the day.
  • Nutrition, alcohol consumption, medications, age, illnesses, and even masturbation can have a short-term impact on testosterone levels.
  • More research is required to confirm the long-term effects of masturbation on testosterone.
peeled banana with white cream on top

Scientists have conducted several clinical trials and studies to understand the relationship between masturbation and testosterone better.

In these studies, scientists have also provided important information about sexual activity and abstinence effects on masturbation and testosterone.

In a 1972 study, the plasma testosterone levels in one male subject were measured before and after sexual intercourse and before and after masturbation.

It showed that levels of testosterone were significantly higher after sex but not after a masturbation-induced orgasm [1].

Another study of men with erectile dysfunction found that subjects who lack sexual activity are associated with a reversible reduction in testosterone levels after sexual resumption [2].

Furthermore, one study on the endocrine response to masturbation-induced orgasm in healthy men following 3-week sexual abstinence reveals that while acute abstinence does not affect the neuroendocrine response to orgasm, it increases testosterone levels in males [3].

While masturbation was not associated with changes in testosterone levels in these studies, researchers found that sexual activity after the 3-week abstinence can increase testosterone levels.

Does Masturbation Have Negative Effects On Testosterone?

Masturbation-induced hormone changes can have some short-term effects on the serum testosterone level in the body.

Research suggests that men who engage in aggressive or overly masturbation may experience a decrease in sensation [18], resulting in a lack of sexual motivation, decreased sexual activity, and high-stress levels.

The claim that masturbation reduces testosterone could be because your cortisol levels rise when you are stressed, slowing your body's ability to produce testosterone [17].

"Stress can cause lower testosterone levels and then turn into a vicious cycle — the lower testosterone level can cause stress, which can cause testosterone numbers to drop even lower," says S. Adam Ramin, MD, a urologist and medical director of Urology Cancer Specialists in Los Angeles

Masturbation can cause anxiety and depression due to guilt stemming from feelings of immorality, religious beliefs, and a sense of unfaithfulness.

What Are The Benefits Of Masturbation To Health?

man sleeping in bed and another doing yoga

What Are The Benefits Of Masturbation To Health?

Masturbation has many benefits that promote overall well-being. It can help relieve stress and improve sleep which is essential to increase testosterone levels and improve male sex drive.

Enhance Mental Health

Researchers found that self-stimulation can improve mental health by increasing positive mood hormones such as dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins [11].

By elevating these feel-good hormones, your body's stress level drops along with your blood cortisol. Research suggests that lower stress hormone levels can significantly affect testosterone and sexual performance [12].

Promote Better Sleep

Sexual arousal can help you improve your sleeping habits by causing your brain to release hormones and neurotransmitters that aid in relaxation and sleep.

During an orgasm, the body releases serotonin and oxytocin. Furthermore, your body naturally produces melatonin at night as part of the sleep-wake cycle [13].

While serotonin helps stabilize your mood and feelings of well-being, melatonin binds to brain receptors to help reduce nerve activity, preparing you for sleep.

Help Treat Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Masturbation has been reported to temporarily help men with mild ED get an erection [14].

Contrary to the belief that masturbation reduces men's sexual drive, masturbation can help a man achieve a better erection and enjoy sexual intercourse.

Reduce Cancer Risks

In men, regular ejaculation has been shown to lower the risk of prostate cancer.

A 2016 study found that men who ejaculated at least 21 times per month had a 20% lower risk of prostate cancer [15]. Also, in a 2003 study, researchers discovered a similar link between frequent ejaculation and a lower risk of prostate cancer [16].

Why Do Low Testosterone Levels Occur?

man holding his head in pain

Low testosterone levels in the blood, medically termed hypogonadism, typically occur when there is a hormonal imbalance, resulting in an impaired testicular function and defective testosterone synthesis.

Also, when diagnosing hypogonadism, it is crucial to observe symptoms such as poor sex drive, muscle loss, low energy, and body hair loss.

Here are some causes of low testosterone:

Age

Research suggests that men's average T levels may begin to decrease naturally after the age of 30. The levels of T are expected to decline at a rate of about 1% per year [4], which can significantly impact adult men's sexual health throughout their life.

Sexual Activity

A study found that older men with infrequent sexual arousal, not erectile dysfunction, may decrease testosterone levels [5]. Furthermore, since low T levels are linked to poor sexual function, masturbation may help to improve its level in the short term.

Nutrition and Dietary Patterns

One study revealed an increased risk of low T levels in the high-frequency consumption of bread and pastries, dairy products, and desserts. Also, low intake frequency of homemade foods and dark green vegetables were significantly associated with an unhealthy body composition resulting in low T levels [6].

Stress and Anxiety

Any form of stress and anxiety can make your adrenal glands release cortisol, thus elevating its level in the bloodstream.

Research suggests that chronically elevated cortisol levels can cause men's impotence and loss of sexual desire by inhibiting testosterone synthesis [7].

Chronic Illnesses

Low testosterone levels are also correlated with the side effects of medications to treat several chronic illnesses, including diabetes, liver, lung, or kidney disease, metabolic disorders, and chemotherapy for cancer [8].

Can Sexual Abstinence Improve Low Testosterone Levels?

man's pants with a woman's hand inside

Studies are showing that abstinence from sex can improve low testosterone levels.

The Zhejiang University research on the relationship between ejaculation and testosterone level in men showed that testosterone increases to a massive 145.7 percent of their baseline levels during ejaculation following abstinence of seven days [9].

Another study found that when men masturbated after three weeks of abstinence from all sexual activity, their testosterone was significantly higher than masturbating during a non-abstinence period [10].

These studies further demonstrate that sexual release and orgasm after short or long-term abstinence can significantly increase testosterone levels.

Conclusion: Does Masturbation Decrease Testosterone Levels?

Masturbation has a psychological impact, contributing to hormonal changes that cause testosterone levels to shift. However, these changes are only temporary.

Indulging in masturbation after a period of abstinence has been found to promote higher testosterone levels, which leads to an increase in: 

  • Muscle mass
  • Energy levels
  • Sexual drive
  • Erectile dysfunction prevention

So, if you're looking to increase your testosterone levels, whether to improve your workout routine or your sex life, occasional masturbation can help.


References:

  1. https://joe.bioscientifica.com/view/journals/joe/52/1/
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11760788/
  4. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/
  5. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266690/
  7. https://news.utexas.edu/2010/09/27/
  8. https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12659241/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/
  11. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/
  12. https://www.everydayhealth.com/mens-health/
  13. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/
  14. https://www.thehealthsite.com/sexual-health/erectile-dysfunction/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/
  16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
  17. https://www.verywellmind.com/
  18. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/

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