Does Masturbation Decrease Testosterone?

Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
22nd November 2021

In 30 seconds…

Masturbation does not decrease testosterone, nor increase it. In fact, despite numerous studies into masturbation and testosterone, there is no conclusive evidence to show that there is a link between them at all. Masturbation is normal and healthy and has no clear impact on testosterone levels.

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.

Testosterone Support

Keep those T levels up

The powerful threesome of Maca, Ginseng & Zinc is there to help you boost testosterone levels and, in turn, virility. Low T can be a libido killer.


Taken Daily
1 Tablet

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. 

FAQs

What is testosterone?

Testosterone, commonly known as the male hormone, is a hormone present in both the male and female bodies. It is known to be important in the development of the male sex organs, and in the growth of body hair and muscle mass during puberty.

What does the science say about masturbation and testosterone?

Numerous studies have been conducted measuring the levels of testosterone in men’s blood before and after both sex and masturbation. The results, however, often contradict each other, to the point that it seems there is no direct or causal link between masturbation and testosterone levels. However, it would seem that testosterone levels are raised by sexual intercourse.

Is masturbation good for you?

Masturbation is perfectly healthy and natural, provided you are comfortable doing it, and yes it can be good for you, with reported health benefits including an improvement to mental health, a reduction in stress, healthier sperm, and better sleeps.

Do men need high levels of testosterone?

Testosterone is an important hormone during puberty and the development of the male body, as well as influencing libido, muscle mass and hair growth. Higher levels of testosterone is not necessarily a good thing, however, and may contribute to greater hair loss in later life. On the other hand, low testosterone levels can affect your mood, energy levels, and sex life.

References

  1. C. A. FOX, A. A. A. ISMAIL, D. N. LOVE, K. E. KIRKHAM and J. A. LORAINE (1972). STUDIES ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PLASMA TESTOSTERONE LEVELS AND HUMAN SEXUAL ACTIVITY: https://joe.bioscientifica.com/view/journals/joe/52/1/joe_52_1_005.xml

  2. Emmanuele A. Jannini, Emiliano Screponi, Eleonora Carosa, Mario Pepe, Francesco Lo Giudice, Francesco Trimarchi and Salvatore Benvenga (2001). Lack of sexual activity from erectile dysfunction is associated with a reversible reduction in serum testosterone: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1046/j.1365-2605.1999.00196.x

  3. M S ExtonT H KrügerN BurschP HaakeW KnappM SchedlowskiU Hartmann (2001). Endocrine response to masturbation-induced orgasm in healthy men following a 3-week sexual abstinence: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11760788

  4. Ming JiangJiang XinQiang ZouJin-Wen Shen (2003). A research on the relationship between ejaculation and serum testosterone level in men: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12659241

  5. Natalie Long, MD, Liz Nguyen, MD, and James Stevermer, MD, MSPH (2015). PURLs: It’s time to reconsider early-morning testosterone tests: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4501456/

  6. BBC – Can an orgasm a day keep my stress away?: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/66e32f0e-c734-4818-bcae-4ecb7b122ead

  7. Roy J. Levin (2006). Sexual activity, health and well-being – the beneficial roles of coitus and masturbation: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14681990601149197

  8. Culley C. Carson III, MD. Prevalence, Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypogonadism in Primary Care Practice: http://www.bumc.bu.edu/sexualmedicine/publications/prevalence-diagnosis-and-treatment-of-hypogonadism-in-primary-care-practice/

  9. Maria Schroeder (MD), BerfinTuku2 (MSc), Dominik Jarczak (MD), Axel Nierhaus (MD), Tian Bai (MSc), Henning Jacobsen (MSc), Martin Zickler (MSc), Zacharias Müller (BSc), Stephanie Stanelle-Bertram (PhD), Andreas Meinhardt (PhD), Jens Aberle (MD), Stefan Kluge (MD) and  Gülsah Gabriel (PhD). The majority of male patients with COVID-19 present low testosterone levels on admission to Intensive Care in Hamburg, Germany: a retrospective cohort study: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.07.20073817v1.full.pdf

  10. P Dandona and M T Rosenberg (2010). A practical guide to male hypogonadism in the primary care setting: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2948422/

  11. Jordan Cohen, Daniel E. Nassau, Premal Patel and Ranjith Ramasamy (2019). Low Testosterone in Adolescents & Young Adults: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6966696/

  12. Thomas G. Travison, John E. Morley, Andre B. Araujo, Amy B. O’Donnell, John B. McKinlay (2006). The Relationship between Libido and Testosterone Levels in Aging Men: https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/91/7/2509/2656285

  13. James M. Dabbs Jr., Suzanne Mohammed (1992). Male and female salivary testosterone concentrations before and after sexual activity: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0031938492904539

  14. Benjumin Hsu, Robert G. Cumming, Fiona M. Blyth, Vasi Naganathan, David G. Le Couteur, Markus J. Seibel, Louise M. Waite, David J. Handelsman (2015). The Longitudinal Relationship of Sexual Function and Androgen Status in Older Men: The Concord Health and Ageing in Men Project: https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/100/4/1350/2815091

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.

Further reading

From our health centre. Experts, information and hot topics. See all Masturbation articles

Daily Health by Manual

Daily health supplements

Help your body fight the good fight with our scientifically proven range of nutrients and vitamins. Making healthier easier, every day.

Shop Daily health
Shop