I know that the topic may seem a bit taboo or private, and maybe it may make some of you feel uncomfortable.
If that's the case for you, then I would say go ahead and choose not to read this post. Just put this one back on the proverbial bookshelf, and maybe you'll want to come back to it another time or maybe not. Either way, it's okay.
The thing is we're all men here, and the bottom line is that this is one of the most popular questions we get asked about all the time....and I do mean all the time.
So rather than act like the question doesn't exist, masturbation isn't happening, or that somehow this is a "dirty" topic, we're just going to deal with it openly and directly and provide you with the information you're looking for on this.
Does Masturbation Increase Or Decrease Testosterone?
That's the question on the mind of most men.
On the one hand, you might be thinking that if having sex has been proven to show an increase in testosterone levels (study), then it stands to reason that masturbation would also increase testosterone levels.
On the other hand, you might think that since most of the testosterone production is made in the gonads, that masturbation could result in the emptying of all that hormone upon ejaculation leaving you with lowered testosterone levels.
So which is it? Is it all just a mental thing one way or another in your mind depending on what your opinion of it might be from the start?
You've also heard stories of different famous athletes choosing to abstain from ejaculation or sex because they felt like it lowered their competitive edge. Current boxers like J'Leon Love and Carl Froch have publically stated that they abstain from sex before a fight. Even past greats like Muhammad Ali were known to abstain before big fights as well. In fact, Ali was said to abstain for up to six weeks before a fight!
Then on the complete opposite side of the spectrum you'll hear about one of the most popular, charismatic, and successful boxers, Conor McGregor saying things like: "I definitely have as much sex as possible" before a fight.
Some notable past presidents like Washington and Lincoln were known to abstain from sex before big decisions or difficult times because they felt like they could use that sexual energy and drive to help them focus better and give them that extra X factor they needed for whatever the obstacle was that they were dealing with.
The point is there is a common thought that ejaculation, particularly through masturbation, will lower your testosterone levels leaving you with those ramifications.
Rather than guess and pontificate what you think might be happening in reality, we need to ask the question - what does science say? What does the latest medical research say about the real effects and connection between masturbation and testosterone?
What Science Says About Sex, Masturbation, Ejaculation and Testosterone
So let's get right to it and see what the latest and greatest scientific research says about this topic so we can finally have a definitive answer and put this question to rest.
The effect of ejaculation on testosterone levels
A very common and held belief among a significant part of the male population is that ejaculation will rapidly deplete testosterone from the body, and thereby lowering and or depleting the body of testosterone.
The scientific evidence of that assertion, in both human studies and animal studies, actually doesn't support this notion at all. In study after study, the research shows that ejaculation does not significantly change serum testosterone levels. (study, study, study)
Does abstinence effect testosterone levels?
Another popular belief is that if you abstain from sex or ejaculation that you will experience a significant increase in testosterone levels.
The scientific research on this is separated between short-term abstinence and longer term abstinence.
When it comes to short-term abstinence, which is considered approximately 3 weeks or so, scientific evidence shows that there is a slight increase in testosterone. (study)
One particular Japanese study showed a huge increase of 145% in testosterone levels specifically on the seventh day of abstinence. Some say that this could be a natural evolutionary trigger to start reproducing, but that's just a hypothesis.
What about long term abstinence of three months or more, for example? The scientific research here indicates that long term abstinence like this can significantly reduce overall serum testosterone levels. The one thing to keep in your mind with this study is that it was a study of men with erectile dysfunction, so there is a distinct possibility that the lower T levels could be caused by something else.
What about sex versus masturbation?
So, we know now that ejaculation through masturbation really doesn't have a significant impact on testosterone levels one way or the other, so you might think it would be the same with sex with another person.
Oddly enough, the research shows that sex with a human (versus self masturbation) actually has been shown to increase testosterone levels.
Here's a study of older men that shows that the men who are having sex have higher testosterone levels than the men who aren't.
In this study, it shows that men who went to a sex club and had relations with a woman, showed an average 72% increase in their testosterone levels, while men who didn't and just watched, only showed an 11% increase in T.
Here's another study that shows that on the nights a couple has sex, testosterone levels increases versus the nights they don't have sex.
Does the number of times you ejaculate affect testosterone?
It's an interesting question, and it turns out there is a study out there that answers this question. It found two interesting things about multiple ejaculations. The first thing it found was that after you have multiple ejaculations, they noticed a fairly sharp decline in the number of androgen receptors (study). Those receptors are what allow or enable you to use testosterone throughout your body. Furthermore, they noticed that there was an increase in estrogen receptors. (study)
More specifically, this study found that your androgen receptor activity increases after 1-2 ejaculations in a short period of time. However, they also found that 4 or more ejaculations in a short period of time significantly reduces androgen activity.
Does ejaculation affect muscle building?
The general theory is that if ejaculation decreases testosterone, and testosterone is an integral part of the muscle building process, then you might not get the size and mass you could have because of lowered T from ejaculation. Bottom line here is that the scientific evidence just doesn't support this. There's really no major negative effect to serum testosterone levels and therefore no effect on muscle building, strength, or even fat burning due to ejaculation.
The Conclusion of Ejaculation and Testosterone
I wouldn't say this is a huge plethora of scientific research and information on this topic, however, there seems to be enough to make some conclusions that are soundly based on good medical study.
As far as answering the question of whether masturbation increases or decreases testosterone levels, what we learned is that it really doesn't have a significant impact one way or the other. However, we did learn that ejaculating 4 or more times to the point of sexual exhaustion can lower androgen receptor activity making it much harder for your body to utilize testosterone.
In terms of abstinence, we learned that short term abstinence (~3 weeks) can slightly increase serum testosterone levels, especially on the seventh day. We also found that long term abstinence (~3+ months) can reduce serum T levels.
And finally, we learned that there is a difference between ejaculation through masturbation versus with a real human being. The science shows that testosterone increases when you have sex and ejaculate with a human vs. self masturbation. The reason why isn't crystal clear but it most likely has to do with the other hormonal triggers that come with love, sexual intimacy, and physical connection with another human being.
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