By Ali Kuoppala | Last reviewed Tue 25 September 2018
Medical Review by Dr. Stefano Pizzo, MD
One of the more frequently asked questions I get is around the topic of ejaculation and testosterone is;
Does masturbation increase or decrease testosterone levels?
That’s a valid question since the internet seems to be loaded on opinions about the topic.
Obviously, it makes a lot of sense that ejaculation, masturbation, and having sex could all lower T levels, since 95% of the good stuff is made in the gonads, and during an ejaculation you’re basically dumping the contents away, but even if something “makes sense”, doesn’t always mean it’s correct.
The topic of refraining from ejaculations itself has been talked about for years, and many athletes are known for their habit of abstaining from sex before big events, such as: Mike Tyson, who abstained because he felt like having sex before fights made him a “weaker boxer”. Or another boxing legend – Muhammad Ali – who wouldn’t have sex for 6 weeks before his big fights.
Athletes aren’t the only ones who avoid ejaculations for a “greater cause”. Many highly successful men of the past have also abstained in order to use the sexual energy as a fuel for other things, these guys include Napoleon Bonaparte, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Oscar Wilde, William Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, and many more.
But does any of the above have to do with testosterone? Or is it just a mental thing? And do ejaculations or masturbation even lower testosterone levels in the first place?
Ejaculation and Testosterone
It’s almost like a big taboo to even talk about this very topic, and it’s funny to see how some men get all angry when they don’t like what they see.
With that in mind, I’m going to just go through some of the actual scientific research about masturbation, sex, ejaculations, and testosterone – in animal and human subjects – objectively.
If something below doesn’t justify your porn addictions, or if it just makes you get all hot and bothered, please leave the site and never come back. I’m not here to instruct you how often to have sex or masturbate, this post is just here to show you the real evidence behind masturbation and testosterone levels.
So, here’s some of the research:
a) It’s known that short-term abstinence of 3 weeks can slightly increases testosterone levels in healthy human subjects, and one interesting study shows a significant 145% spike in T at the 7th day of abstinence (probably an evolutionary trigger to reproduce). However, long-term abstinence of 3 months has been shown to significantly reduce testosterone levels (note that this is only researched in men with erectile dysfunction, so the low T can be caused by something completely different).
b) In multiple human and animal studies, it has been noted that ejaculation does not acutely change serum testosterone levels, busting the common myth that ejaculation would rapidly deplete the body from testosterone (study, study, study, study).
c) Even though ejaculations seemingly have no significant effects on serum testosterone levels, they can (at least according to rodent studies) alter the body’s ability to utilize testosterone. It has been seen that after multiple ejaculations a sharp decline in androgen receptors takes place inside the hypothalamus, and not only that, but a sharp increase in estrogen receptors follows as well. One rodent study also found out that 1 or 2 ejaculations in short span of time increased androgen receptor activity in the body, while 4 or more ejaculations caused a significant drop in the activity of AR, suggesting that ejaculating yourself to “sexual exhaustion” might lower your body’s ability to utilize androgens and even affect some androgen receptor-mediated things like beard growth.
d) While masturbation induced ejaculations don’t seem to have that big of an effect on serum testosterone levels, sex with a real person does. For example: In a study of 44 men visiting a sex club, it was noted that the men who actually had sex in the club with a woman, noted a nice 72% average increase in their testosterone levels, while the men who only watched the act, got a boost of 11%. In another study, it was seen that on couples, testosterone levels increase on the nights that they have sexual intercourse, but not on the nights that they don’t. One study also saw that older men who have more sex, have higher T levels. What causes this if ejaculations don’t? It could be the interpersonal touch, the female pheromones, the feelings of dominance, power, and even success…
Conclusion on Ejaculation and Testosterone
Ejaculations and their effects on testosterone is quite an understudied topic on humans, but from the current evidence, we can draw the following assumptions on testosterone and ejaculation:
- Short-term abstinence from ejaculations can slightly increase testosterone levels.
- Long-term abstinence can reduce serum T.
- Having an ejaculation does not acutely affect testosterone levels.
- Ejaculating to the point of “sexual exhaustion” can make it harder for your body to utilize testosterone.
- Masturbation doesn’t seem to affect testosterone levels in any significant manner.
- Sex with a real person can boost testosterone levels significantly.
All-in-all, these are all assumptions from the human & animal science above. More human research around masturbation and testosterone levels would not hurt, and if you can find some, please link them in the comment section below.