Does Masturbation Decrease Testosterone?
Has your sex drive dwindled? Does sex feel like a chore? Are you having a hard time getting through workouts or building muscle? Do you find yourself becoming irritated, upset, angry, or moody more frequently now? Or, are you more tired than you used to be? If the answer to three or more of these questions is “yes,” you may be suffering from low testosterone.
Low testosterone can wreak havoc on your mental, emotional, physical, and sexual health. The cause of this deficiency varies from person to person, however, studies suggest that the most common causes are diabetes, infections, obesity, substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), congenital or chromosomal diseases, being underweight, pituitary disorders, medication side effects, hypogonadism (an inability to adequately produce sex hormones like testosterone), abnormally high iron levels, testicular injuries, excessive or chronic stress, chemotherapy or radiation, undescended testicles, illness or surgery, and HIV/AIDs.
Researchers suggest that low testosterone is not linked to excessive or chronic masturbation. While they do not believe that masturbation has a direct impact on testosterone, they concede that masturbation (in moderation) may temporarily boost a man’s sex drive and sexual performance. Studies have also not found any direct link between masturbation and a person’s overall physical health. Masturbation is appealing to many people because it is a safe alternative to sexual arousal, intercourse, and release.
But even if there is no direct physical link between masturbation and physical health issues, like low testosterone, it can cause a host of mental health issues. More specifically, it can cause social anxiety, performance anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and/or depression – which could, in turn, trigger health issues like sexual dysfunction, high blood pressure, headaches/migraines, and/or gastrointestinal distress (i.e., nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or vomiting).
Although masturbation (in moderation) may boost sex drive and sexual performance, excessive and chronic masturbation can have the opposite effect. Excessive or chronic masturbation can negatively affect relationships, self-esteem and self-confidence, sexual arousal, sex drive, and sexual satisfaction. It could also lead to substance abuse and even porn addiction in some cases.
If you are wondering if masturbation could be causing your testosterone levels to dip, you have come to the right place, because in this article, we will explore the link between masturbation and testosterone and offer you tips on how to stop masturbating excessively, stop your porn habit, boost your testosterone levels, and revitalize your sex life.
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What is Testosterone?
A male’s primary sex hormone is testosterone, also referred to as “low T.” This hormone triggers the growth and development of male sex organs. Its main function in the body is to promote and support facial hair growth (i.e., beards, goatees, and mustaches), voice tone, chest hair, weight, mood, sex drive, red blood cell development, muscle development, and bone strength.
Testosterone also plays a role in female development, albeit at lower levels than in males. This sex hormone helps females develop bone strength, boosts their sex drive, and helps them maintain healthy estrogen levels, a female sex hormone that is needed for properly functioning ovaries. Keep in mind that a testosterone deficiency in either gender (male or female) can lead to infertility.
Can Masturbation Lower Testosterone Levels?
No, excessive or chronic masturbation will not lower your testosterone levels – directly. However, it can lower them indirectly.
Conversely, some researchers have found that regular or frequent sexual activities, including masturbation, with or without a partner may actually boost your sex drive and performance. This natural increase in testosterone is likely to remain until you orgasm at which time your testosterone level will return to its “pre-sex” status.
According to an earlier study, men who abstain from sexual activities (including masturbation) for at least 3 weeks may experience a slight boost in testosterone. Researchers also suggest that masturbating before body-building or strength-training workouts could boost testosterone and aid in muscle growth. Though more research is needed to substantiate that claim.
Is Masturbation “Good” or “Bad”?
It depends on who you ask.
Most researchers agree that masturbation is a safe and healthy (when performed in moderation) form of “self-love,” “self-pleasure,” and “sexual pleasure” that can be experienced alone or with a partner.
Researchers have also found that masturbation can provide numerous benefits, such as:
- Easing Stress
- Reducing Sexual Tension
- Boosting Mood
- Aiding in Relaxation
- Reducing Anxiety & Depression
- Supporting Sound Sleep
- Exploring & Understanding One’s Body
- Improved Sex Life
- Alleviating Muscle Cramps & Headaches
Most studies (to date) have been unable to pinpoint a direct link between low testosterone levels and masturbation. These researchers cite that masturbation (alone) does not cause ED, hair loss, or acne flare-ups, rather, these low testosterone symptoms stem from high-stress levels, relationship issues, personal hygiene, or lifestyle choices – not masturbation. They believe that masturbation can cause mental health issues that indirectly impact testosterone levels.
An example of an indirect link between masturbation and low testosterone is a person who experiences shame and guilt after masturbating. This shame and guilt likely stem from social, religious, societal, personal, or family pressures. The general perception of masturbation is that it is “bad,” although in most cases that is not true. Still, most people are taught that “self-pleasure” is immoral, “dirty,” and if you are in a committed relationship – adulterous.
These negative perceptions coupled with relationship or personal issues can cause depression and anxiety in and out of the bedroom (i.e., performance anxiety). Anxiety and depression can cause your testosterone levels to dip, which can lead to sexual dysfunction like ED and reduced sex drive. Moreover, masturbating solo or keeping it a secret from your partner can cause relationship issues, and feelings of shame and guilt, which could, in turn, lead to anxiety, depression, and low testosterone levels.
Can I Tell If My Testosterone Is Low?
Yes, if you know the signs of low testosterone.
Listed below are the signs of low testosterone:
- Low Libido or Sex Drive
- Reduced Strength or Endurance
- Low Muscle Mass
- Low Bone Mass (Osteoporosis)
- Memory Loss or Inattention (An Inability to Focus or Concentrate)
- Impotence or Erectile Dysfunction (ED) (An Inability to Achieve or Maintain an Erection During Sexual Activities)
- Low Semen Production & Release During Ejaculation
- Hair Loss on Your Scalp, Face & Body
- Low Energy
- Extreme Fatigue or Exhaustion
- Obesity or A High Body Fat Percent
- Chest Fat (Gynecomastia)
- Brain Fog
What Do The Experts Say?
Although the general consensus is that masturbation does not affect testosterone levels, this conclusion stems from limited studies. Therefore, more research is needed to definitely determine the short-term and long-term effects of masturbation on testosterone levels.
What is known and universally accepted is that testosterone is linked to a person’s sex drive. It does not matter if you are male or female, however, it is more closely linked to males. Testosterone levels increase during sexual activities like masturbation, foreplay, and sexual intercourse, then decline to “pre-sex” levels once orgasm is reached.
An earlier study found that serum testosterone levels are not directly impacted by masturbation. What does that mean? It means that contrary to popular opinion, testosterone levels do not decline the more you masturbate. In fact, they do not decline at all from masturbation. Researchers also found that while sexual thoughts or fantasies can spark sexual arousal, they are unlikely to cause a man’s testosterone levels to fall.
Surprisingly, a 2021 study found that frequent masturbation may actually prevent a decline in “unbound free testosterone,” however this effect is only temporary and does not apply to “total testosterone” which occurs throughout the day. As a result, researchers surmise that this “protection” only applies to 2% of testosterone and is short-term.
The other 98% belongs to “total testosterone,” which is responsible for stable mood, muscle development, growth, etc. “Unbound free testosterone” is responsible for male characteristics like a deeper voice. Thus, it appears that masturbation, even frequent, excessive, or chronic “self-pleasuring” is unlikely to boost or reduce testosterone levels.
Conversely, researchers also found that frequent masturbation can cause androgen receptors in the brain to decline. Androgen receptors are important because they help your body transfer testosterone to where it is needed. However, a 2007 study found that frequent masturbation can cause estrogen receptors in the brain to increase. According to an earlier study, adult males who refrain from masturbation for at least 3 weeks may experience a slight increase in their testosterone levels.
Can Frequent Masturbation Boost Testosterone?
Although some researchers suggest that masturbation can boost testosterone levels at least short-term, that may not be scientifically accurate on a large-scale basis. Studies do support that healthy or high testosterone levels can boost libido (sex drive), which naturally leads to more and better sex, however, the link between masturbation and testosterone levels is cloudy at best.
While earlier studies suggest that masturbation can and will boost testosterone levels, these studies are limited and in a specific location, so the results cannot be applied to the general population as a whole. While it makes sense to assume that masturbating boosts testosterone levels because it “sparks sexual desire” “gets those juices flowing” and “stimulates sex hormones” that may not be the case all of the time. Testosterone fluctuates from minute to minute, which can make researching it tricky.
More recent studies, on the other hand, suggest that masturbation and ejaculation do not directly impact testosterone levels. But while moderate masturbation can boost your testosterone levels, excessive and chronic masturbation may actually use up some of your testosterone, and cause an uptick in estrogen production and release.
Can Abstinence Boost Testosterone Levels?
Researchers have found that occasional or short-term abstinence episodes of between 1-3 weeks may slightly boost testosterone levels. However, more research is needed to definitely determine the short-term and long-term effects of masturbation on testosterone. Some people believe that abstinence “resets” the body and mind so that the body is more in-sync with its various parts. On the flip side, studies suggest that long-term abstinence may have detrimental effects on testosterone. Researchers have found that testosterone levels will decline without “stimulation.”
How is Low Testosterone Treated?
There are various treatments available to help with low testosterone levels, but the first step in getting the right treatment is to determine what is really causing your love testosterone levels. Is it masturbation or something else?
Before you can properly treat low testosterone it is important to find the cause or causes of the deficiency. Perhaps, it is previous substance abuse or an STD combined with excessive or chronic masturbation, or maybe it is just excessive or chronic masturbation alone. To determine the true cause of the low testosterone levels, your doctor may order lab work (i.e., iron deficiency tests, hormone level tests, etc.) to get an idea of your current testosterone levels.
You may also need an ultrasound of your ovaries to determine if cysts could be causing your low testosterone levels (females). You will likely need a physical examination, and/or a CT scan to look for tumors that could be affecting your testosterone levels.
- Testosterone Therapy
If you are deemed to have low testosterone, your doctor will likely prescribe testosterone therapy to correct the problem. The goal of this therapy is to boost your testosterone levels by inserting testosterone into your bloodstream. This can be accomplished with pills, injections, subcutaneous balls placed under the top layer of your skin, topical gels, or topical patches.
- Porn Addiction Treatment
If your excessive or chronic masturbation is linked to porn use, you will likely need porn addiction treatment along with other testosterone treatments, self-help tools, and natural remedies. You may also need porn addiction treatment if it is determined that stress, anxiety, depression, and shame and guilt from your fixation on porn, which is indirectly causing your testosterone levels to decline.
Porn addiction treatment may involve psychotherapy (i.e., cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure-response and prevention (ERP) therapy, and/or acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)), medications (i.e., SSRI antidepressants), and natural remedies (i.e., hypnosis, semen retention, NoFap, mindfulness meditation, etc.).
Stop Together is an online porn addiction program designed to help people who engage in excessive porn-induced masturbation finally get the relief that they need to conquer their addiction and have the life they want and deserve.
- Support Groups
A support group can help people suffering from porn addiction or porn-induced masturbation addiction and their loved ones cope with the stresses of these addictions. A porn addiction support group along with porn addiction forums and podcasts can help addicts and their loved ones not feel so isolated and alone.
This group fosters acceptance, guidance, and friendship, which is necessary for someone trying to kick a masturbation and/or porn habit. It can also provide tips, support, and understanding to people with similar issues.
- A Healthy Diet
Healthy foods are extremely important for healthy hormone levels and testosterone levels are no exception. One way to possibly boost your testosterone levels is to reduce or cut out sugar, salt, junk food, and processed foods (i.e., pizza, chips, tv dinners, etc.). Researchers have found that these types of foods, especially the sugary ones, can cause testosterone to temporarily fall.
So, if possible, avoid or limit your consumption of these foods, and stick to a low-calorie diet filled with lots of nutrient-rich fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and legumes. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water to wash out toxins that could be lowering your testosterone levels. Low-calorie diets are great because they prevent obesity and keep you energized so you can accomplish your goals. A healthy diet complete with lots of vitamins can prevent hormone fluctuations and keep your testosterone levels steady.
- Weight Loss
Losing weight is another way you could possibly boost your testosterone levels. Researchers have found that obesity is one of the primary causes of low testosterone. They also found that high cholesterol levels can negatively affect the production and release of “free testosterone.” What does that mean? It means that losing weight if you are overweight or obese, can help you regulate your testosterone level. So, you may want to take a closer look at your diet and exercise routine – or lack thereof.
Exercising offers a wide range of long-lasting health benefits, including increasing and maintaining healthy testosterone levels. Working out helps build muscle and harness internal energy, triggering an increase in testosterone. Researchers have found that testosterone is crucial for muscle growth and development, so it just makes sense that exercising would trigger the production and release of this hormone. Studies also suggest that high-impact and medium-impact exercises boost testosterone levels, however, this increase is only temporary.
The general consensus is that masturbation does not directly decrease testosterone. If masturbation has any impact on testosterone is fleeting, insignificant, and undefined. But as of today, researchers have been unable to determine a credible link between frequent, excessive, or chronic masturbation and low testosterone levels. Masturbation is linked indirectly to testosterone, but this comes from the side effects of life stressors like illnesses, high-level or chronic stress, relationship issues, medication side effects, etc., causing these levels to decline – not from masturbation itself.
Still, excessive or chronic masturbation can lead to problems in your everyday life, such as unsatisfactory sex, feelings of betrayal, anger and frustration, mood swings, social isolation, low self-esteem and self-confidence, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and so much more. Porn addiction is also linked to excessive or chronic masturbation, which can also cause these negative emotions, which in turn could cause a decline in testosterone. The best way to remedy low testosterone is to find the cause of it and seek the necessary treatment to restore your levels, repair the damage to your relationship, improve your self-esteem and self-confidence, and revitalize your sex life.
So, does masturbation decrease testosterone? In a nutshell, no.
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