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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.
One of the legends is that masturbation can cause you to lose scalp hair, either in the form of a receding hairline or total baldness.
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 linking masturbation to hair loss, nor is there any relationship between the amount of sex you have and the thickness or health of your hair.
Interestingly, some of the websites that claim masturbation causes baldness back up their hair loss claims with evidence that sounds quite reasonable. There are a lot of scientific terms used and mentions of hormones, protein deficiencies and minerals in seminal fluid.
Below, we’ll look at some of the common reasons masturbation is claimed to cause hair loss and debunk some of the nonsense "science" used to back up these claims.
Dihydrotestosterone, more commonly known as DHT, is a male sex hormone that’s the primary cause of male pattern baldness.
DHT binds to receptors in your scalp and miniaturizes the hair follicles around your hairline and crown, resulting in hair loss for men with a genetic sensitivity to DHT.
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.
Like most urban legends, real scientific data totally contradicts the claim that masturbation has any effect on DHT and other male hormones. In fact, there are several studies that show sexual activity has no measurable effect on testosterone or DHT production.
Another study compares men with normal sexual activity levels to men that deliberately avoided sexual activity. Blood sample data showed no difference 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.
While it’s true that semen does contain protein, masturbating or having sex doesn’t have any significant effect on the amount of protein available for your hair follicles.
On average, there’s about 5040 mg of protein in every 100mL of semen. Since the average amount of semen released during each ejaculation is 3.7mL, this means you need to either have sex or masturbate 27 times to release just over five grams of protein.
To put this in perspective, you consume about six grams of protein every time you eat an egg, and 30 to 60 grams every time you eat a chicken breast.
The amount of protein you lose when you orgasm is insignificant compared to the average person’s dietary protein intake. Even if you spend all day masturbating, you’ll still consume 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 correlation between masturbation and protein deficiency.
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.
The most significant hormone released during sex 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 good, but it’s not linked to the health or thickness of your hair.
Interestingly, there is some limited evidence that oxytocin could have an effect on the conversion of testosterone to DHT. However, there’s no evidence specifically showing that masturbation has any specific impact on DHT that wouldn't also occur in other situations that produce oxytocin.
Since your body will release oxytocin when you do things like hold hands with your partner or gaze into their eyes, there’s no reason to specifically worry about oxytocin released during sex or masturbation affecting your hairline.
Male pattern baldness is caused by DHT, which is made when your body converts testosterone into DHT through the 5α-reductase enzyme. At no point does masturbation play any real 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 side effect of sensitivity to DHT, stress, nutrition or lifestyle issues than the result of too much masturbation.
You can treat these by taking action to lower your DHT levels using medication or changing your diet and lifestyle to eliminate the factors that contribute to hair loss.
In short, you can rest easy. Masturbation won’t affect your hairline, hair thickness or any aspect of your hair health. Neither will sex. If either did, the vast majority of the world’s population would have serious hair loss problems and the medical community would be very much aware of it.
This article was reviewed by Brendan Levy, MD.
Finasteride is for use by MEN ONLY and should NOT be used by women or children.
Read this Patient Information before you start taking Finasteride and each time you get a refill. There may be new information. This information does not take the place of talking with your healthcare provider about your medical condition or treatment.
What is Finasteride?
Finasteride is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of male pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia).
It is not known if Finasteride works for a receding hairline on either side of and above your forehead (temporal area).
Finasteride is not for use by women and children.
Who should not take Finasteride?
Do not take Finasteride if you:
are allergic to any of the ingredients in Finasteride. See the end of this leaflet for a complete list of ingredients in Finasteride.
What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking Finasteride? Before taking Finasteride, tell your healthcare provider if you:
have any other medical conditions, including problems with your prostate or liver
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Know the medicines you take. Keep a list of them to show your healthcare provider and pharmacist when you get a new medicine.
How should I take Finasteride?
If you forget to take Finasteride, do not take an extra tablet. Just take the next tablet as usual.
Finasteride will not work faster or better if you take it more than once a day.
What are the possible side effects of Finasteride?
decrease in your blood Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels. Finasteride can affect a blood test called PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) for the screening of prostate cancer. If you have a PSA test done you should tell your healthcare provider that you are taking Finasteride because Finasteride decreases PSA levels. Changes in PSA levels will need to be evaluated by your healthcare provider. Any increase in follow-up PSA levels from their lowest point may signal the presence of prostate cancer and should be evaluated, even if the test results are still within the normal range for men not taking Finasteride. You should also tell your healthcare provider if you have not been taking Finasteride as prescribed because this may affect the PSA test results. For more information, talk to your healthcare provider.
There may be an increased risk of a more serious form of prostate cancer in men taking finasteride at 5 times the dose of Finasteride.
The most common side effects of Finasteride include:
a decrease in the amount of semen
The following have been reported in general use with Finasteride:
in rare cases, male breast cancer.
Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.
These are not all the possible side effects of Finasteride. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA1088.
How should I store Finasteride?
Keep Finasteride in a closed container and keep Finasteride tablets dry (protect from moisture).
Keep Finasteride and all medicines out of the reach of children.
General information about the safe and effective use of Finasteride.
Medicines are sometimes prescribed for purposes other than those listed in this Patient Information. Do not use Finasteride for a condition for which it was not prescribed. Do not give Finasteride to other people, even if they have the same symptoms you have. It may harm them.