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Does Masturbation Decrease Testosterone?

Katelyn Hagerty FNP

Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 6/10/2021

Most men will probably agree that orgasms are great. They’re beneficial to mental health, feel amazing and can strengthen intimate relationships. 

Masturbatution can provide plenty of benefits, too, even if the pleasure is solo. But are there any downsides to giving yourself a hand?

There are plenty of old wives’ tales out there, about hairy palms and blindness. But does masturbation decrease testosterone? 

Read on to find out. 

Why Low Testosterone Matters

Testosterone levels are important. Low testosterone—which is commonly known as an endocrine condition called hypogonadism—happens when the body fails to produce adequate sex hormones.  

And while it’s not life threatening, it does lead to problems.

Low testosterone has been associated with a number of conditions, like erectile dysfunction, ow libido, osteoporosis, muscle loss, low energy or mood and cognitive issues. 

It’s not clear why some of these ailments can result from low testosterone levels. 

Furthermore, studies often clarify that, because of a lack of universal diagnostic criteria, there’s not a clear definition of what constitutes “low” testosterone. 

Low testosterone numbers can also vary ethnically. And when diagnosing low testosterone levels, it’s important to observe fluctuating testosterone levels along with symptoms. 

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Why Low Testosterone Levels Occur

Testosterone can impact and/or benefit sexual function, mood, strength, bone density, insulin resistance, obesity, and heart conditions.

Testosterone levels naturally get lower as men age through a condition called hypogonadism. 

Essentially, the body’s hormone production declines with age (though it can also result from prostate issues), in a similar way that  menopause affects women. 

Testosterone levels  generally start to drop (if they will) when men hit age 60, and about 20 percent of men see such symptoms. The percentage grows with each passing decade.

Hypogonadism can be treated with testosterone replacement therapy, commonly known as TRT. 

TRT is considered safe and effective, yet there are some side effects such as  an increased risk of heart and/or prostate disease. 

Testosterone levels are something you generally want to keep “normal” throughout your life—yet that’s something that can become increasingly difficult with age. 

Generally speaking, most men won’t want to do anything that could potentially decrease testosterone. 

Sexual Activity and Testosterone Levels

Back to the big question: Does masturbation decrease testosterone?

If you’re having an incredibly high amount of sex, well, congratulations. If you’re mastubating at a frequency where you’re concerned with the side effects, that alone may warrant a talk with a healthcare professional—but not necessarily for concerns about decreased testosterone. 

That’s because there isn’t really a proven link between orgasms and testosterone levels. Research on the topic has been infrequent at best, and has left more questions than answers. 

Here is what’s known: 

A 2001 study of 10 men found two key points in observing the relationship between masturbation and testosterone. 

Initially, researchers found that masturbation did not alter testosterone levels, yet abstaining from masturbation for a three-week period did significantly increase overall testosterone levels.

This could suggest that not orgasming increases testosterone levels, right? 

Not exactly. 

One study from 1999 revealed conflicting findings about the role of sexual activity in testosterone levels. 

The study’s researchers found that men suffering from impotence and therefore lacking in sexual activity had lower testosterone levels. 

The lowered levels were found to be reversibile for patients who were successfully treated, but in patients who did not respond to treatment, levels stayed lower.

What this potentially means is that someone who abstains from masturbation  might see his testosterone levels go up, while someone suffering from dysfunction might see his levels decrease. 

It’s important to understand that in the 1999 study, the suspected mechanism of testosterone decline is actually the erectile dysfunction itself—not the lack of sexual activity. 

It also gets a bit more complicated. 

Studies dating back to the ‘70s show that during intercourse and post intercourse, testosterone levels were higher than when sex was not taking place. 

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Masturbation and Testosterone: What We Can Conclude 

Because studies have shown that both sex and abstinence can increase testosterone, it could be surmised that sexual activity without release may artificially increase testosterone. 

But there doesn’t seem to be a proven, scientific correlation between frequent orgasm and decreased testosterone levels in the long term. 

It’s important to understand that the lack of a correlation may be from a lack of evidence. 

Studies in this field haven’t adopted universal controls or expectations, so the information may not be as helpful as it could be. 

Know that hypogonadism is not caused by excessive masturbation or frequent sex—that’s not how it works. 

Low testosterone levels are the result of age and health, and do not appear to be an effect of orgasm frequency.

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The Truth about Masturbation and Testosterone 

If you’ve been worried that masturbation might decrease testosterone, you can rest easy knowing it’s not a concern. 

If you have questions about your testosterone levels or suspect you might be experiencing erectile dysfunction, it’s wise to check your ed treatment options with a healthcare professional. 

He or she could offer insight into the cause of your issues, and prescribe any necessary treatment. 

If you are experiencing low testosterone, there are tactics you can take to help give it a boost. 

Reducing stress, changing your diet, and taking good care of your body can all help. For more information, check out this guide on how to increase testosterone.

4 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. FOX, C. A., ISMAIL, A. A. A., LOVE, D. N., KIRKHAM, K. E., & LORAINE, J. A. (1972). STUDIES ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PLASMA TESTOSTERONE LEVELS AND HUMAN SEXUAL ACTIVITY, Journal of Endocrinology, 52(1), 51-58. Retrieved Jun 2, 2021, from
  2. Jannini, E. A., Screponi, E., Carosa, E., Pepe, M., Lo Giudice, F., Trimarchi, F., & Benvenga, S. (1999). Lack of sexual activity from erectile dysfunction is associated with a reversible reduction in serum testosterone. International journal of andrology, 22(6), 385–392.
  3. Exton, M. S., Krüger, T. H., Bursch, N., Haake, P., Knapp, W., Schedlowski, M., & Hartmann, U. (2001). Endocrine response to masturbation-induced orgasm in healthy men following a 3-week sexual abstinence. World journal of urology, 19(5), 377–382.
  4. Jia, H., Sullivan, C. T., McCoy, S. C., Yarrow, J. F., Morrow, M., & Borst, S. E. (2015). Review of health risks of low testosterone and testosterone administration. World journal of clinical cases, 3(4), 338–344.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.