Does Masturbation Decrease Testosterone: Is It The Cause of Erectile Dysfunction?
Time to read 6 min
Time to read 6 min
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
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 .
But what happens when testosterone levels decline and what causes this drop?
Hypogonadism, or low testosterone levels, brings about a range of symptoms that can significantly impact an individual's life. These include:
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.
Testosterone levels decrease as men get older and after the age of 40 levels can decrease by 1%-2% per year.
When a man gets stressed his body releases cortisol which can stop the production of testosterone in the testicles.
Men who don’t engage in exercise are not helping their bodies produce more testosterone. Studies show exercise increases testosterone levels in men .
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.
Frequent consumption of alcohol, particularly beer as hops contain 8-prenylnaringenin, which is a strong plant-derived estrogens. These can lower testosterone levels.
Testosterone is produced in the testicles so if these are damaged the amount of testosterone produced can be reduced.
Some medications like opioid pain medications can lower testosterone.
Cancer treatment like chemotherapy can decrease testosterone levels and even damage sperm production.
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 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 .
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 .
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.
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 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
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.
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.