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Does Masturbation Decrease Testosterone?

Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
18th May 2021

In 30 seconds…

Does masturbation reduce testosterone levels? The short answer is no, masturbation – or indeed ejaculation in any form – does not affect your male hormone to any significant extent.

In fact, science has not produced conclusive evidence to show that there is a link between testosterone and masturbation at all. Whilst one or two studies suggest that masturbation lowers testosterone, others state precisely the opposite. The truth is that the effect either way is probably negligible.

The link between masturbation and testosterone remains one of the great myths about masturbation. But whilst low testosterone can be a serious condition, it’s not caused by self-pleasure – an activity that is perfectly normal and healthy.

Does Masturbation Reduce Testosterone?

Testosterone is the hormone most commonly associated with the male body, known to play an important role in the development of the male sexual organs and in the growth of body hair and muscle mass.

And, whilst testosterone is thought to influence male libido and sexual desire, rumours abound about its possible link to masturbation. According to some, masturbation lowers testosterone levels. According to others, it increases that hormone – and is thus thought to be responsible for hair loss. With so many masturbation myths around, it is understandably difficult to assess its true effect.

In this article, we’re going to take you through the evidence of the link between self-pleasure and the male hormone. So, does masturbation decrease testosterone? Let’s find out. 

Masturbation and Testosterone: The Evidence

There have been a number of studies in recent years that have looked at the link between testosterone and masturbation. However, whilst they have contributed important knowledge to the field of science, they have not, so far, shown any conclusive results. In different studies, in fact, masturbation – or orgasms in general – has shown effects that are directly contradictory.

One study from 1972, for example, measured the levels of testosterone in one subject both before and after sexual intercourse and before and after masturbation. It found “significantly higher” levels of testosterone after sex, but no difference at all after a masturbatory orgasm.

A more recent study into men with erectile dysfunction found that subjects who did not engage in sexual activity had reduced levels of testosterone, with these levels increasing after sex. However, this is where things get a little tricky, as another study found that, after three weeks of sexual abstinence – including abstinence from masturbation – men actually demonstrated an increase in testosterone. 

Whilst a further study looking at the effect of abstinence found that testosterone levels increase after periods without masturbating, the evidence of the studies at large point in opposite directions.

Testosterone and Sex

This is not to say that there is no link between sexual activity and testosterone at all, however. In fact, there is evidence that testosterone increases as a result of sexual intercourse in both men and women, with one study finding that reduced sexual activity correlated with reduced levels of testosterone.

However, this particular study challenged what was an assumption held about sexual activity and testosterone. Whilst it has been believed that reduced testosterone caused a reduction in sexual activity, the truth may actually be the other way around: a reduction in sexual activity might cause dips in testosterone.  

As a result, that widely held belief that testosterone increases sexual performance may not be true at all. Further research is needed to confirm these findings.

Unfortunately, establishing a definite link between the hormone and human activity is difficult – as, in all genders, the levels of testosterone fluctuate naturally throughout the day. It may in fact be this that has given prior studies such differing results.

What are the Real Benefits of Masturbation?

Whilst reducing or increasing your testosterone levels are not one of them, there are a number of benefits that masturbation brings.

These include an improved ability to relax and to sleep, a boost to your mood, and a reduction in stress. There is also evidence that masturbation increases your sperm health and aids in the healthy maintenance of your circulatory and respiratory systems too.

It is worth stressing that masturbation is a perfectly healthy activity that enables men and women to discover their desires and preferences and to get to know their own bodies in greater intimacy. Masturbation is not a vice, but rather an opportunity to explore what you like sexually.

And the Risks?

Whilst masturbation is normal and healthy, there are risks to doing it too much. If you feel as though you think about masturbation a lot, you skip social or work occasions to masturbate, or if masturbation is causing problems with your relationships, you might be masturbating excessively. In these cases, it can impact your mental health – and you should talk to someone about it. In this case, see your GP or refer yourself for psychosexual counselling.

What is Low Testosterone?

It is increasingly common for men to be concerned about their testosterone levels. Whilst low testosterone – or Low-T – can be a serious medical condition in its most extreme form, potentially as many as five million men in the US experience symptoms of the deficiency.

These include a lack of sex drive – but they are not limited to that. Low-T can affect your mood, causing fatigue, listlessness, and irritability – and it may leave you with reduced muscle mass and reduced hair growth as well. The condition has also been recently linked to an increased risk of contracting acute symptoms of infectious diseases such as the novel coronavirus, although these results are yet to be confirmed.

Low-T is usually experienced by older men; in fact, 20-40% of older men may have the condition. However, with more attention being paid to the seriousness of testosterone deficiency, an ever-increasing amount is known about the condition. As a result, we know that Low-T is not limited to the elderly – with recent studies having specifically considered Low-T in younger men too.

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Key Takeaways

Low testosterone can be a serious condition among men of all ages, particularly in those who are older. And, with symptoms including fatigue and reduced muscle mass, it can be for some a difficult condition to manage.

However, does masturbation decrease testosterone? And can frequent masturbation increase your chances of Low-T? The answer to both questions is no: there is no compelling evidence to suggest that masturbation lowers testosterone. In fact, your private pursuits may not have any effect on your testosterone levels at all. 



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While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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