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Let’s Talk About Masturbation and Testosterone

Testosterone is a very important sex hormone that plays many vital roles in the human body. One of the most notable influences of testosterone is on our sexual function, and excessive amounts or deficiencies of the hormone can lead to profound changes in sexuality.

Sexual activity also has an influence on testosterone, however, and there is some evidence that there is a marked interaction between masturbation and testosterone. In this article, we’re going to discuss the influence that masturbation can have on testosterone so you can understand more about how these things work together.

Table of Contents

  1. Does sexual arousal increase testosterone levels?
    • a. Does this lead to increased athletic performance?
    • b. Does ejaculation hinder this effect?
  2. Are there any potential side effects from frequent masturbation?
  3. Is abstinence a better option?
    • a. Short term abstinence vs long term abstinence


Does sexual arousal increase testosterone levels?

Testosterone formula with man ripping open shirt

In recent years there have been more and more rumors that have suggested there to be a link between testosterone and masturbation.

The truth behind this statement is more complicated than a simple yes or no answer. Some studies have refuted the claim, suggesting that there is no link between the two. However, there’s no doubt that masturbation – particularly with ejaculation – can lead to some profound changes in biochemistry, many of which can feel similar to low testosterone levels.

To understand all this, we have to recognize that testosterone is highly related to our sex drive. Testosterone levels are known to increase during states of high arousal, such as during masturbation, sex, or foreplay. This leads to some things like increased aggression, more strength, and extreme sexual desire.

Ejaculating causes testosterone levels to return to normal, however, it hasn’t been shown to actually return them to a lower level. That said, many men experience a number of symptoms post-ejaculation that are similar to symptoms of low testosterone.

  • Sleepiness or lethargy
  • Changes to mood – apathy or depression
  • Reduced motivation

These symptoms are enough to suggest that ejaculation should be limited, or at least timed in a manner that allows for the man to deal with these side effects in an appropriate manner. For example, ejaculating right before going to work might not be the best idea.

One of the reasons that people suspect that masturbation leads to low testosterone is because excessive use of porn and masturbation can lead to sexual dysfunction and erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation. This is partially due to conditioning on the part of the man.

    • Men who are accustomed to porn may develop premature ejaculation by training their brain and body to rush towards ejaculation as quickly as possible. In many cases when a man watches porn, ejaculation is the sole purpose and they attempt to get there as quickly as possible. This can lead to difficulty in sexual encounters.


  • Men who are accustomed to porn and aggressively masturbating may be underwhelmed when it comes to actual physical sexual encounters, leading to erectile dysfunction.

Young man watching pornography in kitchen
While low testosterone can cause erectile dysfunction, however, it’s unlikely that the frequent masturbation and ejaculation have caused low testosterone.

What’s interesting, however, is that if you masturbate without actually ejaculating, you can experience some improvement in your general well-being. As we mentioned, testosterone increases during heightened states of arousal. Holding onto this state of arousal without ejaculating can have a number of interesting benefits.

Does this lead to increased athletic performance?

The thousands of men who have reported an increase in athletic performance as a result of abstaining from ejaculation suggests that there is something to this. Abstinence combined with other muscle-gaining or weight-loss techniques can be very valuable.

However, studies have shown that there is actually no definable link between ejaculation and testosterone levels – with the exception of a brief spike in T levels somewhere between days 6 and 8 of abstinence. In fact, some studies have shown that testosterone levels may decrease slightly after several weeks of abstinence.

What can be certain is that masturbation won’t directly hinder your athletic performance – however, it may make it more difficult for you to maintain the energy needed to follow a dedicated workout routine.

The current studies in the area suggest that testosterone will be highest around a week after your last ejaculation. This knowledge could be beneficial for improving athletic performance, especially if you schedule a competition or an intense workout around this time.

Does ejaculation hinder this effect?

A man protecting his groin with both hands

Yes. Ejaculation causes a number of side effects which we will outline below.

Many of these side effects are more prominent with frequent masturbation, and ejaculating once in a while is unlikely to cause serious side effects. However, ejaculating at some point during the week before testosterone levels spike will likely reset the clock, and you wouldn’t experience any benefits until abstaining for another week.

Are there any potential side effects from frequent masturbation?

As we discussed earlier, there are a number of masturbation side effects that can occur if you do so too often.

    • The development of sexual problems such as premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction can emerge as a result of training your brain and body to be either hyper-responsive or under-responsive to sexual stimuli in the real world.


    • Testosterone receptors may decline in a process known as downregulation after masturbation. This is a normal response to an elevated level of testosterone: your body attempts to maintain equilibrium at all times in hormonal systems, and when it detects excessive levels of a certain hormone, it reacts by shrinking down the size of the receptors.
      This happens with androgenic steroids and other forms of testosterone replacement therapy, as well. The degree of downregulation is generally less serious in regard to masturbation, but still something to be aware of.


    • Too much masturbation can lead to a condition known as sexual exhaustion, during which you will be uninterested in sexual activity and likely unable to perform.



Is abstinence a better option?

Many people have reported finding extreme improvement in their physical performance, mental health, and general wellbeing by retaining their semen and avoiding masturbation.

One of the best ways to do this is through a process known as edging. During this process, you will masturbate until you’re in an extreme state of arousal. Right before you pass the point of no return – the time at which the pleasure becomes so intense that ejaculation is imminent – you stop stimulating yourself and return to baseline.

If you want to retain the benefits of elevated energy, strength, and motivation, then you will finish the session without ejaculating.

Short term abstinence vs long term abstinence

There is some debate as to whether short-term abstinence or long-term abstinence is the better option for enhancing health overall.

As it stands, there are not enough human studies done on the effects of short or long-term abstinence from masturbation. However, there are huge online communities with tens of thousands of members, such as those on Reddit, who report that there are immense benefits from abstaining from masturbation for long periods of time.

Either way, people and science report different effects between short and long-term abstinence.

Short-term abstinence
Short-term abstinence is generally reported to provide benefits. After as few as three days, many men have reported experiencing an elevation in energy levels, strength, and determination. Others have reported physical change such as improved complexion.

The current science available does not believe that this is related to testosterone. In fact, studies on the subject reveal that testosterone only spikes for one day after a week of abstinence and then returns to baseline after 16 days.

Long-term abstinence
As mentioned earlier, some studies have observed a decrease in testosterone during periods of long-term abstinence, and in some cases after as little as two weeks. However, these decreases are not significant enough to warrant very serious changes in the body.

It can be difficult to perform studies in this regard due to the natural fluctuation of testosterone. Healthy men will experience regular fluctuations in serum testosterone between 10 and 40%.

So, does abstinence increase testosterone? To further accentuate the confusion, some studies have found that long-term abstinence from sexual activity actually did increase testosterone levels in some subjects, but not in everyone. Furthermore, even these subjects experienced elevated testosterone during periods of sexual activity – though whether they ejaculated or not was not determined.


Whilst some studies have shown a link between masturbation and testosterone levels. There is a lot of confusion surrounding the idea that masturbation can increase or decrease testosterone levels, and current medical studies simply have not reached a valid conclusion.

What is certain is that thousands of men have reported significant improvements to their health and well-being by abstaining from masturbation. Our current understanding suggests that this may be a result of something other than testosterone.

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