Medically reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 8/10/2021
There are many urban legends about masturbation, ranging from beliefs that masturbation can result in you going blind to myths about masturbation causing hair to grow on the palms of your hands.
Like the other masturbation myths, the idea that masturbation will cause your hair to fall out isn’t true.
There’s absolutely no scientific evidence that links masturbation to male pattern baldness, nor is there any proven relationship between the amount of sex you have and the thickness, density or overall health of your hair.
Interestingly, some websites that claim masturbation can cause baldness back up their hair loss claims with evidence that sounds quite reasonable.
There are a lot of scientific terms used and mentions of factors such as hormones, deficiencies of nutrients such as protein and minerals in seminal fluid.
Below, we’ll look at some of the reasoning behind claims that masturbation causes hair loss and debunk some of the nonsense “science” behind these beliefs.
We’ll also explain the reality of hair loss in men, as well as the most effective options for slowing down, stopping and reversing male pattern baldness.
Dihydrotestosterone, more commonly referred to as DHT, is a male sex hormone that’s the main factor responsible for male pattern baldness.
In men genetically prone to male pattern baldness, DHT can bind to hormone receptors located throughout the scalp and cause hair follicles around your hairline and crown to miniaturize.
Over time, this causes thinning and noticeable hair loss.
We’ve discussed the effects of DHT on your scalp and hair in greater detail in our guide to DHT and male pattern baldness.
One of the most common reasons used to back up the claim that masturbation causes hair loss is that masturbating results in a release of hormones, including DHT.
This “reason” is untrue. Like most urban legends, real scientific data totally contradicts the claim that masturbation has any effect on your body’s production of DHT or other male hormones.
In fact, there are several studies that show that sexual activity, whether it’s masturbation or sex, has no measurable effect on testosterone or DHT production.
One study compared the testosterone levels of men with normal sexual function to those of men with sexual dysfunction. The researchers took the men’s testosterone levels in the same period and under identical conditions.
The final results of the study showed that both groups of men had similar levels of testosterone, with no significant difference between the men with sexual dysfunction and the men with normal sexual function.
Another study compared men with normal sexual activity levels to men that deliberately avoided engaging in sexual activity.
Blood sample data showed that there were no significant differences between the two groups in the levels of total testosterone, free testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH).
Since DHT is a metabolite of testosterone, it’s extremely unlikely that sexual activity (whether it’s masturbation or sexual intercourse) has any effect, positive or negative, on DHT levels.
Put simply, masturbating doesn’t appear to have any effect on your production of testosterone or other hormones that can play a role in hair loss.
If you’re interested in blocking DHT and restoring hair growth, there are DHT shampoos that you can try.
Protein is the building block of your body, playing a vital role in the development of everything from your muscles and internal organs to your skin, hair and nails.
Your hair is largely made up of a protein called keratin. Research shows that dietary protein is important for healthy hair growth, and that protein malnutrition can potentially result in forms of sudden hair shedding such as telogen effluvium.
The idea behind this theory is that because semen contains protein, every ejaculation rids your body of important nutrients that could be used for hair loss.
The reality is that masturbation and sex don’t result in significant protein loss, nor do they have any real impact on your hair.
While it’s true that semen does contain protein, masturbating or having sex doesn’t reduce the amount of protein that’s available for your hair follicles by any significant amount.
On average, there’s approximately 5,040 mg of protein in every 100mL of semen. The amount of semen that’s released when you ejaculate is, on average, about 3.4mL.
This means that in order to lose just five milligrams of protein, you’d need to masturbate or have sex almost 30 times.
To put these figures in context, you consume approximately six grams of protein every time you eat an egg, and 30 to 60 grams every time you eat a chicken breast.
Although you do lose some protein when you reach orgasm and ejaculate, the amount is totally insignificant compared to the average person’s dietary protein intake.
Even if you spend all day masturbating, you’ll still take in about 10 to 50 times as much protein in your diet, provided you eat relatively healthily.
Just like the supposed link between masturbation and DHT, there’s no real correlation between masturbation, protein deficiency or hair loss.
This myth is a variation on the "masturbation affects DHT" claim we debunked above, albeit with the added claim of masturbation affecting the total balance of hormones in your body.
While it’s true that sex does have some effect on the levels of certain hormones in your body, it’s a temporary effect that isn’t linked to hair loss.
One of the most significant hormones released during orgasm and ejaculation is oxytocin, which is a peptide hormone that affects pleasure centers in your brain.
This is one of the reasons why sex and masturbation feel pleasurable. However, it isn’t linked to the health or thickness of your hair.
Interestingly, there’s a small amount of scientific evidence that suggests that oxytocin may have an effect on the conversion of testosterone to DHT.
However, there’s no evidence specifically to show that masturbation has any measurable impact on DHT that wouldn't also occur in other situations that produce oxytocin.
Since your body will release oxytocin when you do pleasurable things, like hold hands with your partner or gazing into their eyes, there’s no reason to specifically worry about oxytocin released during sex or masturbation affecting your hairline.
It’s common, normal and perfectly healthy to masturbate. It’s even normal to masturbate several times per day.
In general, masturbation is absolutely fine, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your day-to-day life or have a negative impact on your relationships.
However, excessive masturbation may become a problem when it:
Affects your sexual performance or enjoyment. Masturbation doesn’t cause erectile dysfunction. However, masturbation can cause you to enter your male refractory period, which may have a temporary impact on your sexual performance.
Causes you to prefer porn to real-life sex. Although research is limited, some studies have found that excessive use of porn may cause a form of ED known as porn-induced erectile dysfunction. If you masturbate to porn, it’s best to take a break if you find yourself preferring porn to real-life sex, or if your think you’re starting to develop a compulsion to watch porn.
Gets in the way of your work or education. Like other activities, masturbation can be healthy and enjoyable. However, it’s important not to let it get in the way of your work or education.
Has a significant impact on your finances. If you masturbate to porn, or use sex toys, it’s important to monitor the amount you spend and avoid letting masturbation affect your finances.
Damages or irritates your penis. Excessive masturbation may cause the skin on your penis to become irritated. In this case, it’s best to take a break and let your skin recover, then use plenty of lubrication to protect and moisturize your skin.
Makes you feel guilty or ashamed. Masturbation is a pleasurable and enjoyable thing, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed or guilty about it. If you feel negative after masturbating, it may be best to take a break and think about what’s causing you to feel this way.
If you’re concerned that you masturbate too much, you may want to consider reaching out to a mental health provider for expert advice and assistance.
You can connect with a mental health provider locally or from your home with our online mental health services.
Our guide to how much masturbation is too much explains more about the effects that frequent masturbation may have on your sexual performance.
Masturbation generally isn’t harmful. In fact, it can even have major benefits for your mental and sexual health.
Relieve stress and frustration
Get rid of sexual tension
Make you feel more comfortable with sex
Help you learn what you enjoy sexually
Improve your self-esteem and sexual confidence
Help you to relax and sleep
For women, masturbation can also help to reduce muscle tension and relieve the throbbing and cramps (referred to as dysmenorrhea) that occur during menstruation.
Male pattern baldness is caused by a combination of genetic factors and the androgen hormone DHT, which your body produces as a byproduct of testosterone.
At no point does masturbation play any role in the process of causing hair follicles to miniaturize and stop growing.
If you’ve noticed your hair falling out or your hairline starting to recede, it’s far more likely to be a result of male pattern baldness than excessive masturbation.
In some cases, lifestyle factors such as stress, nutritional deficiencies or the use of certain types of medication can contribute to hair shedding. However, masturbation isn’t one of these.
In short, you can rest easy. Masturbating won’t have any effect on your hairline, the thickness of your hair or any aspect of your hair health.
Similarly, neither will having sex. If either of these factors were contributors to hair loss, the vast majority of the world’s population would have major hair loss issues and the medical community would be very much aware of it.
Dealing with hair loss can be a frustrating experience. However, it’s important to know that real, science-based treatments are available that can slow down, stop and even reverse the impact of male pattern baldness on your hairline.
Currently, the most effective treatment options for male pattern baldness are FDA-approved hair loss medications, such as minoxidil and finasteride.
Minoxidil is a topical medication that’s available as a liquid or foam. It works by moving hairs into the anagen, or growth, phase of the hair growth cycle.
It also stimulates blood flow, which may improve nutrient supply and hair growth.
Minoxidil is available without a prescription, making it a convenient treatment if you’d like to start combatting hair loss without talking to a healthcare provider.
Finasteride is a prescription medication for hair loss. Unlike minoxidil, which works at the scalp level, finasteride works by inhibiting the effects of the enzyme that’s responsible for converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
Research shows that finasteride is very effective, especially when it’s used in combination with minoxidil.
In a study published in the journal Dermatologic Therapy, 94.1 percent of men with visible hair loss who used finasteride and minoxidil together showed improvements in hair growth.
We offer finasteride online, following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
You can also access minoxidil and finasteride together, along with other hair loss products, in our Hair Power Pack.
In addition to medication, several other options are available for treating hair loss caused by male pattern baldness. These include:
Hair loss prevention shampoos. These shampoos contain ingredients such as saw palmetto and ketoconazole, which may help to prevent hair loss. You can learn more about these products in our guide to the best shampoos for thinning hair in men.
Hair growth vitamins. Several essential vitamins and minerals, including those in our Biotin Gummy Vitamins, are involved in hair growth. However, there’s limited evidence that vitamins play any significant role in preventing male pattern baldness.
Hair transplant surgery. This type of surgery involves moving DHT-resistant hairs to areas affected by hair loss, such as the hairline or crown. It’s very effective, but costs several thousand dollars and may take several weeks to heal. Our guide to hair transplant surgery goes into greater detail about the advantages and disadvantages of this type of procedure.
Masturbation is a healthy, normal activity that can have real, significant benefits for your sexual and mental health.
Contrary to the many old wives' tales and urban legends, there’s no evidence that masturbation plays any role in hair loss, blindness or body hair growth.
If you’re currently experiencing hair loss, it’s far more likely to be caused by genetic factors and the effects of DHT than by anything related to your sex life. Our range of hair loss treatments allows you to take decisive action against hair loss from male pattern baldness and maintain your hair into your 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond.
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