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Can Masturbation Affect My Kidneys?

Written by
Dr. R. Y. Langham

September 1, 2023

Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Dianne Steven

Truth be told, there is a lot of misinformation and myths floating around when it comes to masturbation. So, let’s clear up some fallacies. Contrary to popular belief, you will not grow excess hair on your palms if you decide to masturbate. You also will not go blind from masturbating. And, guess what? Eating a ton of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes won’t help you stop masturbating. Engaging in masturbation also will not turn you into a rapist or pedophile. And, last but not least masturbating will not damage your kidneys or lead to kidney disease.

I (false) idea that masturbating can damage your kidneys or cause kidney disease may stem from a concept floated around in the past in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Supporters of the belief tend to tout the results of a limited 2020 study that found that males with poor kidney function tend to also experience an inadequate sexual performance. This belief system theorizes that because a person’s kidneys are the “holder” of semen, frequent masturbation and ejaculation could cause their body to become “imbalanced,” leading to “illnesses” like kidney damage or disease.

Keep in mind, however, that there is no scientific evidence to back up this theory. There is also no evidence, to date, that frequent, excessive, or chronic masturbation directly causes any physical health issues. In this article, we will discuss the effects that masturbation has on a person’s kidneys and provide tips on how to protect your kidneys while you work on curbing your chronic masturbation activities.

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What is The Function of Your Kidneys?

The purpose of your kidneys is to form urine by removing toxins, wastes, and excess water from your blood. Urine leaves your kidneys and travels to your bladder through ureters (tiny tubes). Broken down food and muscle create toxins, wastes, and excess water that must be removed from your body. Metabolized or “broken down” food is used for energy and to repair your body after the day’s stresses. After the metabolism process is completed, you urinate and remove these particles from your body.

Could Your Kidneys Be Causing Problems in the Bedroom?

Your kidneys may be indirectly causing problems in the bedroom.

However, the only way to determine this is to address your concerns with your primary care doctor who will likely order a battery of tests (i.e., bloodwork, kidney function, hormone tests, sodium level, glucose “sugar” level, etc.) Your doctor will also ask about your medical and histories, including your sexual history and past or current sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs). They may also ask your partner similar questions. You may also be physically examined, and/or asked to keep a health journal (i.e., masturbation and sexual intercourse times, etc.).

Your medications may also be examined to determine if your sex problems are linked to kidney medication side effects, and your nerve and blood supply to your penis may be assessed to determine if there is a circulatory or structural issue that is preventing you from becoming or staying erect during sex. If your doctor has determined that there is a possibility that your kidneys (alone) are negatively impacting your sex life, they will likely refer you to a nephrologist (kidney doctor) for further analysis.

However, if your doctor believes that your kidney issues could be the result of excessive or chronic masturbation or sex, he will likely refer you to a sex therapist, or porn addiction therapist, if the porn use is involved. Keep in mind that if your kidneys are causing sex problems, it is likely due to the psychological factors linked to having kidney issues and not the physicality of your kidneys themselves.

What this means is that feelings of inadequacy, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, level of wellness (how you feel), anxiety, depression, fear, worry, and grief (loss of kidney function, kidney disease, etc.) may be affecting your libido (sex drive), sexual performance, and sexual satisfaction. Understand it is normal to experience trepidation at the loss or possibly loss of kidney function.

These emotions can strip a person of their energy and lead to a loss of interest in previous “enjoyable” activities like sex. When sexual problems occur, some people “shy away” from sexual activities with other people, and turn to masturbation due to feelings of shame and guilt. This is a form of “escapism” for these individuals. However, in some cases, masturbation indirectly compounds kidney issues.

In other words, occasional masturbation quickly turns into regular masturbation, which eventually turns into excessive or chronic masturbation and/or porn addiction (excessive or chronic porn use that is negatively affecting your life), if porn is needed to reach an orgasm while masturbating. Thus, while masturbation can provide respite for people with kidney issues, this respite can quickly morph into addiction. Excessive or chronic masturbation can also affect relationships and self-esteem and self-confidence can also worsen existing kidney issues.

Specifically, stress from relationship issues, especially when masturbation is present and hidden from a partner can worsen kidney conditions. Similarly, feeling unwell, being on a restrictive diet, and having health restrictions, due to kidney issues, can lead to anxiety, depression, and problems in the bedroom.

Still, keep in mind that there is no evidence that masturbation directly damages kidneys or has any effect on kidneys at all. So, if your kidneys are healthy and functioning adequately, there is no reason to feel like sexual activities, including regular, excessive, chronic masturbation (with or without porn) will damage them.

What is Masturbation?

Masturbation, also referred to as “self-gratification,” or “self-pleasuring” is a form of self-stimulation of one’s genitals for the purpose of sexual arousal, pleasure, and satisfaction. This form of sexual stimulation typically leads to an orgasm, although not always. Fingers, water, sex toys (i.e., vibrators), and even inanimate objects (i.e., feathers) can also be used to spark one’s sex drive and trigger sexual arousal. When fingers are used for “self-pleasure” this is referred to as “manual sex” or non-penetrative sex. This form of masturbation is usually conducted by one partner or the other.

Both males and females engage in masturbation, and children to adults explore their bodies through “self-touch.” While masturbation in young children is typically intended as a non-sexual way to explore their bodies, this act tends to take on a more sexual nature when performed by teens and adults. Contrary to popular belief, masturbation can be a healthy way to identify what a person “likes” and “dislikes” during sexual activities and learn more about how their bodies work.

And, as mentioned above, it can be performed in the company of a partner with one partner using their fingers or objects to stimulate the other one without sexual intercourse. Thus, for the most part, masturbation (in moderation) is considered a healthy part of sexual development. Although, many religious communities view masturbation of any type and frequency as immoral,” “evil,” or “sacrilegious,” it may only present a problem if it disrupts one’s life or causes issues in that life, such as damaged relationships, low self-esteem and self-confidence, shame and guilt, anxiety, depression, etc. 

Even occasionally masturbating to porn is okay as long as masturbating to porn is not excessive and does not replace healthy sexual relationships, romantic relationships, and/or real-life experiences. If a person must masturbate to porn every time to achieve sexual arousal, orgasm, and sexual satisfaction, then that is a problem that can lead to other problems. Being dependent on porn-induced masturbation for sexual fulfillment can lead to comorbidity of masturbation addiction and porn addiction, which will likely require porn addiction treatment.

Is Masturbation Safe?

Yes, for most people, males and females, masturbation is safe. However, when a person spends most of their free and non-free (when they are supposed to be working, going to school, completing tasks, or taking care of their children) time masturbating or masturbating to porn, then it becomes “emotionally unsafe.” What does “emotionally unsafe” mean? It means that the individual becomes so “fixated” or “obsessed” with masturbating or masturbating to porn that they neglect everyone or everything else.

This is dangerous in that it can destroy relationships (i.e., due to secrecy and feelings of betrayal), and lead to a host of problems, such as unemployment (from watching porn on computer equipment or missing days because the employee is glued to their computer screen using porn and masturbating), etc. This can morph into feelings of shame and guilt, anxiety, depression, and social isolation. It can even resemble OCD-like compulsions due to urges to use porn and engage in masturbation to ease the “itch” to use porn.

So, yes, masturbation is safe for most people when performed in moderation, especially if a person has health problems and simply does not “feel like” engaging in sexual intercourse with a partner but still wants to feel the sensations that accompany sexual arousal, orgasm, and sexual satisfaction.

Can Masturbation Affect Your Kidneys?

No, as mentioned above, masturbation will not affect your kidneys or any other organs, although it may slightly and temporarily increase your heart rate. According to studies, there’s no evidence that masturbation directly affects your kidney health in any way. Researchers have also been unable to identify any link between kidney issues like kidney infections, failure, disease, stones, or pain. 

A common myth is that a man may experience kidney damage due to a protein deficiency and a loss of nutrients from ejaculating (loss of semen) through sexual intercourse or masturbation. There is no scientific evidence to corroborate this theory. The truth is that semen, in itself, does not contain many nutrients, so ejaculating by any means is not going to lead to a vitamin deficiency (protein or other nutrients). 

The nutrients that semen does contain are not significant enough to impact a man’s health one way or the other. According to a 2013 study, there is only about 5 gm of protein in 100 ml of semen or approximately 0.25 gm in one ejaculation of semen.

Researchers have also been unable to identify a link between endocrine system functioning and masturbation. Although kidneys are considered “excretory organs,” they also have endocrine functions. On top of each kidney lies an adrenal gland. Adrenal glands are a part of the endocrine system. 

Adrenal glands produce hormones that trigger the release of red blood cells and renin, an enzyme that is stored in the kidneys. The kidneys and adrenal glands work together to balance a person’s blood pressure, heart rate, and stress response. Thus, there appears to be no direct connection between adrenal glands (endocrine function) and masturbation.

Can Masturbation Break Up Kidney Stones?

To date, there is one study that suggests that it could aid in the removal or passage of kidney stones, but more research is needed to back up these results. 

According to a 2020 study, masturbation can break up kidney stones so they can more easily leave the body. However, one study is not enough to definitely determine if these results are reliable, true, and universal. Researchers found that masturbating between 3 and 4 times a week may dispel 5-10 ml kidney stones. Results suggest that regular masturbation was just as effective in resolving kidney stones as taking tamsulosin, a common medication used to help with the passage of large kidney stones.

Can Hormonal Changes From Masturbation Help Your Kidneys?

Studies on masturbation and hormones are scarce. Although it does not appear that hormonal changes directly help or hinder kidney function. Researchers have found that masturbation can trigger the release of certain hormones/chemicals (i.e., dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin, testosterone, and prolactin) responsible for mood and behavior. Hormonal changes, in turn, may ease stress, reduce anxiety and menstrual cramps, uplift one’s mood, support calmness, and improve sleep quality in some masturbators, thereby improving one’s overall health.

Can People with Kidney Issues Still Engage in Masturbation?

Yes, they can!

Understand that there is no scientific evidence that people with kidney issues, like kidney disease or kidney failure cannot or should not engage in masturbation. Although “self-pleasuring” often gets a “bad rap,” masturbating (in moderation) will not cause adverse health problems. In other words, it will not trigger or worsen kidney issues. 

However, excessive or chronic masturbation, especially to porn, can lead to other issues, such as performance anxiety, sexual dysfunction (i.e., ED, PE, or impotence), depression, low self-esteem and self-confidence, mental confusion, shame and guilt, etc., it will not directly affect your kidneys. 

However, there may be times when you do not have the energy or mental/emotional state to engage in sexual activities. In this case, masturbation, which you can control and engage in when you desire, may be a viable sex-related alternative option. It is really about your comfort level, but understand that this is not directly tied to your kidneys. Many things can affect your ability to have sexual intercourse with a partner, such as your energy level, medication side effects, hormones, stress, nerves, etc. 

These factors may be indirectly linked to a kidney condition like a kidney infection, disease, or failure or they may be indirectly linked to another condition like asthma, diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune disease, obesity, etc. Or, they may not be linked to any condition and is simply the result of a sedentary lifestyle, poor eating habits, insomnia or a lack of sleep, substance abuse, porn addiction, relationship issues, etc.

If you have healthy kidneys, masturbating, even excessively, frequently, chronically, or to porn, will not impact your kidney function. Understand that even if you struggle with kidney issues, you can still engage in sexual activities like masturbation. But due to the possible emotional and mental implications, the key to staying healthy overall is moderation. It is important to practice “self-care,” regardless of if you struggle with kidney issues or not.

And, while many people equate that anything “sexual” involves sexual intercourse, it encompasses much more than that. The truth is “sexuality” can include kissing, intimately touching, spooning, foreplay, “making out,” and yes, even masturbation. Sexuality also involves “taking care of your personal and sexual needs.”

Can Therapy Help Masturbation or Porn Addiction?


Masturbation addiction can be treated in a variety of ways. One of the most popular ways to treat this type of addiction (excessive or chronic masturbation or porn-induced masturbation that is negatively affecting one’s life) is through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), although other forms of treatment may also be used, such as substance abuse treatment, sex therapy, trauma counseling, and/or couples counseling. Medications may also be prescribed for masturbation and/or porn addiction. These medications include antidepressants or antipsychotics if depression or anxiety is also present. Because porn is often intertwined with masturbation, porn addiction treatment is often utilized to help the individual quit excessively or chronically masturbating. Once the trigger (i.e., porn) is removed, most individuals no longer find masturbating as appealing. Thus, both issues are resolved simultaneously.

Holistic treatments like mindfulness meditation, the NoFap Challenge, semen retention, porn addiction hotlines, support groups, and forums, and online porn addiction recovery programs, like Stop Together, have also helped people struggling with excessive or chronic masturbation or porn-induced masturbation get a grip on their symptoms.

There are also things that a masturbation and/or porn addict can do at home to gain control of their symptoms and stop their addiction(s), such as installing anti-porn software on their electronics, moving their electronic into a public or open space in their homes, confiding in a friend, partner, or loved one about their addiction(s), trying supplements, exercises, or surgery to help them with sexual dysfunctions (i.e., erectile dysfunction (ED)), practicing self-care, finding ways to de-stress, and having yearly check-ups to ensure that their body (i.e., kidneys) are functioning at an optimal level.

But to ease your worries, the general consensus is that masturbation has little to no effect on your kidneys.


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