The prevailing belief is that masturbation reduces your testosterone levels – but that’s according to your friendly neighborhood “bro”.
Be that as it may, is that really a problem?
See, we all know the important role that testosterone plays in aiding the body to create muscle mass after working out. More testosterone means more fuel to achieve gains.
The bottom line is, a man that has regular or ample amounts of testosterone levels in his body (say, 1000 ng/dl) will likely build significantly more muscle mass than someone who has below average testosterone levels (say, 250 ng/dl). The man with lower testosterone levels will need to work much harder and much more often to achieve just a marginal increase in muscle mass. That’s just how it is.
But how does masturbation really affect your testosterone levels?
Let’s begin our discussion by going into NoFap – which is internet slang for masturbation. Or the sound of it. Fap. Fap. Fap.
What it basically means is giving up masturbation entirely to reap its so-called benefits, of which there is a mountain of anecdotal evidence coming from its believers. Just trust me, bro.
However. is there any truth to these claims? Let’s see.
What are the benefits of giving up masturbation entirely?
The primary benefit that believers of the NoFap philosophy claim is that of increased testosterone levels based on a study performed in China back in 2003.
According to the study, men who refrained from ejaculating for a week achieved an increase in testosterone levels by nearly 46%. This inspired NoFap’s believers to actually do the same and abstain from jacking off for a week, and shared other purported benefits of doing so ranging from physical benefits to mental benefits. That’s not to mention others who have found their “Eureka” moment by quitting masturbating altogether.
Here are some of the so-called benefits of the “NoFap” lifestyle, based on largely anecdotal evidence:
- improved feeling of contentment and happiness
- increased confidence
- improved motivation and drive
- less stress and anxiety
- increased feeling of spirituality
- improved attitudes towards the opposite sex
- increased energy levels
- increased muscle growth
- more restful sleep
- better focus
- improved stamina
- better sperm quality
- improved erectile dysfunction
It must be mentioned, however, that none of these benefits are actually backed by any scientific research. It’s all anecdotal. That’s why its benefits can be said to be largely a placebo from men who join a community expecting a successful outcome, and then make it happen for themselves with that outcome in mind.
This isn’t necessarily a negative thing. All it goes to show is that there are people that benefit from it.
What really happens when you abstain from jacking off?
Be that as it may, what actually happens when you abstain from jacking off from a while? Well, a study was conducted with similar parameters, only that men were not allowed to jack off for 3 weeks. The results were that the subjects achieved a slight increase in testosterone levels. Men were asked to masturbate after the exercise, and it was found that while ejaculation lowered their testosterone levels, it went back up to their baseline testosterone levels after 20 minutes or so.
This is what happens when you ejaculate: once you finish doing the deed, dopamine levels decline, prolactin spikes up, your heart rate increases, and then testosterone levels briefly decrease.
Let’s poke into that just a little deeper.
Dopamine is the so-called “pain and pleasure” hormone, because it is responsible for eliciting the same emotions. When dopamine decreases, prolactin increases. That’s because dopamine inhibits the production of prolactin.
Prolactin, on the other hand, is a hormone that interferes with the distribution of testosterone. When prolactin levels increase, testosterone levels decrease.
Does abstention from ejaculating for several days increase T levels and sperm quality? It very well might. The thing is, there really isn’t a lot of research to back any of the purported benefits of not jacking off.
Masturbation is generally agreed to be a healthy and normal part of male sexual development. The same is true for females as well – masturbation during the formative years of childhood and adolescence is linked to a healthy image of self and sets the stage for positive expressions of sexuality in later life.
Masturbation is linked to improving your mood, releasing your stress, and lessens the risk of contracting prostate cancer.
What are the risks of refraining from ejaculating for a while?
Going on a NoFap isn’t likely to cause you any harm. However, it does imply that you will miss out on the established and well-researched benefits of sex, orgasms, masturbation, and ejaculation.
Neither is abstaining from masturbation a substitute for getting medical attention to potentially serious reproductive health and fertility issues in men. Not getting professional help about your sexual health issues will not do you any favors – if you feel like there’s something wrong with your reproductive system, you’ll want to seek medical advice before trying to do things like abstaining from masturbation. Leave the advice to a professional instead of some random stranger on the internet saying “Just trust me bro”.
If you suspect that you are experiencing a manifestation of sexual dysfunction – regardless of what it is – see a professional healthcare provider immediately.
If you are concerned about your sexual behavior or feel ashamed, hopeless, powerless, unmotivated, or depressed, see a mental health professional immediately.
What are the factors that actually influence testosterone production in men?
That said, what are the factors that are proven to positively influence healthy testosterone production in men? Let’s find out.
Level of activity
Exercise of any form (weightlifting or resistance/bodyweight training being the best) has been proven to increase testosterone levels as opposed to living an inactive, sedentary lifestyle.
Not getting the right amount of testosterone-boosting vitamins and minerals like Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin D as well as not getting the proper amount of saturated fat and cholesterol will cause a deficit in testosterone production.
Do not overeat
When you eat at a big deficit for any extended amount of time, your body will instinctively shut down the non-critical processes of the body – including that of the production of testosterone.
Smoking and drinking
Do you really need another reason to quit? Well, cigarettes and alcohol impact the production of testosterone as well as your sexual performance.
It’s simple – the more weight you carry above your ideal weight, the lower your testosterone is likely to be.
Poor sleep hygiene
The relation of sleep deprivation and its impact on testosterone production is largely underrated. Lack of sleep causes insulin sensitivity to decrease, while increasing cortisol (the stress hormone). An increase in cortisol will have your testosterone levels decrease. Basically, catabolic hormones increase, while anabolic hormones – the ones that promote health – decrease.
The Bottom Line
While there may be some people experiencing a wide array of benefits from adopting a masturbation-free lifestyle, much of the purported claims just aren’t scientifically proven.
What we do know is that masturbation in and of itself has no bearing on your performance. The increase or decrease in testosterone levels was only noticeable after the male subjects finished “choking the chicken”. The changes are so minute that they have zero direct impact on your aerobic or sexual performance – and even then, the changes were just for a short while, and the T levels generally remained the same in otherwise healthy men.
Vilifying masturbation as one of the primary causes of low testosterone is like focusing so much on one thing that you miss out on seeing the big picture – even men with lower testosterone levels do not have an inherent need to quit masturbating. Much of the changes they need to make are the ones we have mentioned in the preceding section – small, but long-lasting lifestyle changes.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with masturbation at all – in fact, it’s part and parcel of a healthy lifestyle. Even if you watch pornography while doing so. The only time self-love becomes a problem is when it starts messing with your life in a real, tangible manner. It has no effect on your gains at the gym.
At the same time, if you find that abstaining from masturbating adds value to your life, then there’s no reason why you should quit doing so altogether as it is unlikely to present a negative impact in your life.
The important thing is to stay in close contact with your healthcare provider if you encounter any sexual, physical, or mental health issues that need immediate attention.