masturbation testosterone

Can Masturbating Reduce Your Testosterone?

Think abstinence from self-love may impact your T levels? Read on.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

At a Glance

  • There’s no compelling evidence masturbation will affect your testosterone levels
  • Masturbation has plenty of positive benefits

Masturbation is a fact of life for roughly 92 percent of American men (and women). At least, that’s what sexual health and wellness company TENGA discovered when they surveyed more than 13,000 men ages 18 to 74 in 2018[1].

But despite the overwhelming popularity of self-pleasure, some men steer clear. In particular, men diagnosed with a condition known as male hypogonadism or “low T.” Some guys with low T worry that masturbating will only cause their testosterone levels to drop even more. However, as you’ll soon learn, that fear may not be justified.

What Is Testosterone?

Testosterone is the major sex steroidal hormone in males. 95 percent of testosterone is made in the testes (the other 5 percent is made in the adrenal glands). The production of testosterone is controlled by the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland in the brain.

Testosterone plays a central role in sperm production, male characteristics (such as body hair, muscle strength, growth of sex organs and deep voice) and sex drive (also known as libido)[2]. When the testes don’t produce enough testosterone (levels below 300ng/dL), the result is low T, also known as hypogonadism.

Low T can occur due to conditions or diseases affecting the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland or the testes as all three of these organs are crucial for testosterone production. Men with low T can experience a variety of symptoms, including reduced sex drive, chronic fatigue, decreased bone and muscle mass, lower sperm counts, and erectile dysfunction[3].

Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) can be one effective method to raise testosterone levels and relieve symptoms. But what is TRT? It involves augmenting your natural testosterone with a therapeutic dose of synthetic hormones. This helps your testosterone return to normal levels.

Your fear of masturbation affecting your testosterone isn’t justified

Does Masturbating Lower Testosterone?

In addition to — or even in place of — TRT, some guys try natural approaches, even going as far as giving up masturbation in the hopes of boosting testosterone.

Given the close connection between testosterone and sex drive and sperm production, you might assume that masturbation has an effect on your hormones. But what’s the rationale for thinking that it lowers testosterone?

“I honestly don’t know,” says Nick Dahl M.D., a physician who works with Hone Health, “because my thinking is that it would have the opposite effect.” As Dahl explains, the hormone system tends to adjust to your body’s needs, “so I would think that the more you masturbate, the more your testosterone would increase.”

But the truth is, the jury is still out on whether masturbation has any effect on testosterone — good or bad.

Several studies have examined a possible link between abstinence and testosterone levels, but the findings have been all over the map. One study found that men who didn’t have sex or masturbate for three weeks had higher testosterone levels than they did at the beginning of the study, which makes abstinence seem like a potential solution for low T[4].

However, another study found that men who mastubated more often had higher T[5]. Not to mention, the population sizes were often small and many studies date back to the early 2000’s—one even goes back to 1976[6]!

At the end of the day, there’s no compelling evidence to support the idea that masturbating has an effect on T levels. “If you’re worried about your testosterone, that’s not a reason to stop masturbating,” Dahl says.

In fact, there are other lifestyle changes you can make that have a far greater impact on your testosterone than masturbating (or not). “Exercising, eating better, those are much more powerful for sure,” Dahl says.

How Masturbation Impacts Testosterone

  • Several studies examining a link between testosterone and masturbation have been inconclusive
  • There’s no proof that stopping masturbation will affect your testosterone levels
Worried About Your T?

With Hone’s at-home assessment kit, you can know your testosterone levels in days. Ready to know what’s happening inside your body?

The Benefits of Masturbating

According to research, masturbating most likely will not affect your testosterone positively or negatively, so don’t let that sway your decision to start or stop. That said, there are a few potential benefits to indulging in a little self-pleasure from time to time:

Safer Than Other Types of Sex

Unlike traditional sex, masturbating can’t cause pregnancy and there is virtually no risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI)[7]. There is a chance of irritation or infection if you masturbate with a partner or you’re sensitive to lotions, oils, and sex toys being used, so use condoms and wash your hands anytime you practice mutual masturbation[7].

Improves Sleep

Enjoying an orgasm before bed may help you sleep better. Research published in March 2019 in Frontiers in Public Health found that more than half of people who masturbated before hitting the hay reported better sleep quality[8].

Increases Well-Being

There’s a reason orgasms feel so good. When you have one, your body releases feel-good hormones known as endorphins[9]. These are the same hormones your body releases when you laugh, exercise, and eat a satisfying meal[10]. Endorphins are your body’s natural painkillers and can release stress, creating a feeling of well-being[10].

Why Self-Love Is Beneficial

  • It can help improve your sleep
  • It improves your mood, releasing feel-good endorphins
  • It’s safer than other types of sexual activity

More Content About Low T