Does Masturbation Decrease Testosterone: Is It The Cause of Erectile Dysfunction?

Written by: Dr Dmitry Loktionov



Time to read 6 min

Does masturbation decrease testosterone? This is a question many men have asked themselves due to personal experiences or exposure to “bro science” debates that lack scientific studies and results.

While some firmly believe in the negative impact of masturbation on testosterone levels, others dismiss it as a mere myth. Before we get to the answer, we need to explore the basics of testosterone and male biology, dive into relevant scientific research, and address common misunderstandings. Let's delve into the details. 

There is no scientific link between masturbation and a long-term testosterone decrease

More research is needed due to short-term hormone fluctuations

Lifestyle factors are more likely to be the cause

Dr Dmitry

Dr Dmitry Loktionov - MB. BCh. OB-GYN

Dr. Dmitry is an accomplished doctor, women's health advocate, and founder of Quanna, a next-generation sexual wellness brand. With a background in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, he works towards empowering women with knowledge and improving access to holistic care.

LinkedIn    Website

Let’s Understand Testosterone

Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, instrumental in several critical physiological functions. From sexual development and fertility to muscle growth and hair distribution, this hormone plays a huge role in men's lives. In females, testosterone contributes to bone health, mood regulation, and overall vitality but levels are much lower than that of men.

Testosterone is the primary hormone in men responsible for creating a sex drive and libido. This drive is what causes the interest in seeking out willing sexual partners as well as the motivation for pursuing excellence in endeavors such as a career or family.

It also has a psychological effect of reducing feelings of stress and anxiety [1].

“Testosterone makes effort feel good.”

Andrew Huberman

But what happens when testosterone levels decline and what causes this drop? 

The Impact of Low Testosterone Levels

Hypogonadism, or low testosterone levels, brings about a range of symptoms that can significantly impact an individual's life. These include:

  • Reduced sexual desire or libido
  • Issues in achieving and maintaining erections
  • Decreased sperm count and volume
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Mood alterations, including depression

Furthermore, chronic low testosterone levels can lead to osteoporosis and an increase in body fat. However, it's important to note that lifestyle choices, such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, can also influence testosterone levels. 

Impact of low testosterone levels

What Lowers Testosterone in Men the Most?

1. Age

Testosterone levels decrease as men get older and after the age of 40 levels can decrease by 1%-2% per year.

2. Stress

When a man gets stressed his body releases cortisol which can stop the production of testosterone in the testicles.

3. Inactive Lifestyle

Men who don’t engage in exercise are not helping their bodies produce more testosterone. Studies show exercise increases testosterone levels in men [2].

4. Obesity

Overweight men have lower levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) so testosterone is converted to estrogen by fatty tissue meaning less free testosterone to use.

5. Alcohol

Frequent consumption of alcohol, particularly beer as hops contain 8-prenylnaringenin, which is a strong plant-derived estrogens. These can lower testosterone levels.

6. Testicular Injury

Testosterone is produced in the testicles so if these are damaged the amount of testosterone produced can be reduced.

7. Medications

Some medications like opioid pain medications can lower testosterone.

8. Cancer Treatments

Cancer treatment like chemotherapy can decrease testosterone levels and even damage sperm production.

Key Takeaway:

Testosterone is an important hormone in the male body responsible for more than just sex drive and sexual function. Low testosterone levels contribute to a number of negative health conditions and therefore maintaining high testosterone levels should be an important self-care routine men do regularly through exercise, diet, and supplements for men.

Recommended Reading: How to Naturally Increase Testosterone

Optimize Workout to Boost Testosterone Levels

Does Masturbation Decrease Testosterone?

While there is a natural decrease in testosterone levels that is a result of ejaculation, the effects are short-term with baseline levels returning to normal after a few hours. To date, scientific research has not established a direct link between masturbation and a long-term decrease in testosterone levels. However, the longer answer isn't quite as simple, given the short-term fluctuations in hormone levels that can occur with sexual activity.

Scientific Studies on Masturbation and Testosterone

Scientific studies on how masturbation affects testosterone levels have been inconclusive and limited in quantity. Some studies report temporary increases in testosterone levels during sexual arousal and activity, while others indicate that frequent masturbation might even help maintain testosterone levels.

In a 2001 study, abstaining from masturbation for three weeks resulted in a mild increase in testosterone levels for the male participants. However, the testosterone levels of these participants didn't decrease after masturbation [3].

Another study published in 2021 suggested that masturbation could help prevent a drop in free testosterone over the course of a day. However, the effect was temporary and not significant enough to influence overall testosterone levels [4].

The Role of Testosterone in Muscle Growth and Sexual Function

Testosterone is known to assist in muscle growth by facilitating protein synthesis. Thus, maintaining healthy testosterone levels is critical for those seeking to build muscle mass.

Furthermore, testosterone is pivotal to sexual function. An increase in testosterone levels often leads to increased libido, better sperm quality, and improved erectile function.

The Effect of Lifestyle on Testosterone Levels

While masturbation doesn't seem to have a significant impact on testosterone levels, certain lifestyle factors can. Regular exercise, particularly resistance and high-intensity interval training, can boost testosterone levels.

Adequate sleep and effective stress management are also crucial for maintaining healthy testosterone levels. Chronic stress resulting in elevated cortisol levels can negatively impact testosterone production. 

Dietary Impact on Testosterone Levels

Dietary habits can also influence testosterone levels. Food nutrients for male libido such as foods rich in zinc, such as oysters, can boost testosterone production, as zinc deficiency has been linked to decreased testosterone levels. Similarly, leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, and extra-virgin olive oil, all rich in essential nutrients, can benefit testosterone levels.

Specialized supplements like maca root are also known to boost libido

Supplements for Boosting Testosterone Naturally

Alongside a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, certain supplements can aid in supporting healthy testosterone levels. Zinc supplements can be beneficial, especially for those with zinc deficiency. Vitamin D supplements may improve testosterone levels in individuals with vitamin D deficiency. Ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb, may also boost testosterone levels and overall health.

The GOAT Male Libido Boosting Supplement


Rev up your sex drive with this daily male libido supplement, packed with a scientifically-developed formula of Maca, Ginseng, Tribulus, and more. Boost your testosterone production, increase penile blood flow, and double your stamina.

Va Va Boom Female Libido Boosting Supplement

Va Va Boom

This daily female libido supplement is naturally formulated to support a healthy libido, mood, and sexual function. Packed with a stimulating blend of adaptogens and herbs like Maca, Tribulus, Pine Bark and more to maintain a healthy drive and hormonal balance.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

In conclusion, masturbation doesn't appear to have a significant long-term impact on testosterone levels. Rather than worrying about the effects of masturbation on hormonal health, it's more beneficial to focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, balanced diet, and regular exercise routine.

Remember, testosterone levels naturally fluctuate throughout the day and can be influenced by a myriad of factors, including age, stress, sleep patterns, and overall health. Therefore, if you're concerned about low testosterone levels, it's best to consult with a healthcare provider who can provide accurate diagnoses and effective treatments.

By creating an open discourse around these often misunderstood topics, we can empower individuals to make informed decisions about their sexual health and overall well-being. So, keep exploring, keep asking, and most importantly, keep the conversation going.