No, masturbation won’t make you go blind.
No, it won’t grow hair on your palms.
No, it’s not a moral offense that will require three Hail Marys.
It’s neither a sin, nor a public health menace, no matter what the religious sorts in your life and or some YouTuber might try to tell you.
Masturbation is a natural and healthy part of any adult’s life, and mutual masturbation can be a fun part of a healthy sexual relationship.
But excessive masturbation, especially to hardcore pornography, can cause some serious problems.
And even if it didn’t cause issues with your hormonal health, masturbating instead of having sex with your partner can either indicate or cause problems in a relationship.
So when possible, it’s usually best to ejaculate with your significant other, as opposed to taking care of business on your own.
Excessive masturbation impacts how your body utilizes testosterone…
Although some of the anti-masturbation types might approve of this (since it means you’ll want to fornicate less often), this is generally Bad News for your sexual and hormonal health.
Several studies have shown that your testosterone levels rise during masturbation, but returns to the body’s normal level shortly after masturbation is finished.
This is why you’ll see a lot of articles on the web telling you masturbation doesn’t impact testosterone, but it’s not the whole story.
Though it’s true that masturbation doesn’t lower your serum testosterone, research with rodents has found that excessive ejaculation reduces the amount of active androgen receptors in the hypothalamus, with a corresponding increase in estrogen receptors (source).
In plain English: too many orgasms means your body can’t use all the testosterone it makes, while at the same time getting really efficient with how it uses estrogen (2).
It won’t matter if you produce far more testosterone than you need, if your body can’t use the stuff, it won’t do you any good.
Although the mechanic is different, the end result is the same as if your body was making less testosterone.
Here’s a funny thing. Ejaculating frequently through masturbation does seem to lower how well your body uses its serum testosterone, but ejaculating frequently from sex has the opposite effect.
Check out these studies:
Research in 1992 measured salivary testosterone in men and women on 11 evenings before and after sex, and on 11 evenings when they did not have sex.
They consistently found elevated testosterone in both partners after they had intercourse.
In 2010, researchers measured testosterone levels in men who visited a Las Vegas sex club, finding that the men who had sex at the club saw an average rise in testosterone of 72%.
A 1982 study found that in older men, those who had more sex also had higher levels of serum testosterone (source).
We are certain that sex increases testosterone levels, while masturbation does not. What we don’t know at all is how your body knows the difference.
A few of the better guesses include exposure to pheromones, the athletic nature of satisfying sex, and the sense of success one feels while getting laid. All three of those things have been linked in other studies to rising testosterone levels.
A wide variety of traditional practices and sports training techniques suggest abstinence from orgasm as a means to become stronger or more focused. As with so many traditional health concepts, modern research has come to support this idea.
Anecdotal evidence abounds that short-term abstinence from ejaculation improves athletic performance. Both Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali abstained on nights before a bout, for example.
On a more scientific note, a 2003 study in Hangzhou, China examined serum testosterone in 28 subjects who fasted from ejaculating (either masturbation or sex).
They found abstaining from ejaculation had no substantive or consistent impact on testosterone for the first six days.
On the seventh day, though, most subjects showed an average of 145.7% of the testosterone they initially tested at (source).
Another study saw smaller increases in testosterone after three weeks of no ejaculation.
However, in the “too much of a good thing” department, another study found testosterone decreased after three months without ejaculating.
It’s worth noting, though, that other psychological and physiological effects of not climaxing for a quarter of a year might have been at play there.
I’ve told you about the good and the bad of masturbation. Now, here’s the ugly. Masturbating frequently to pornography can cause another serious issue with your hormonal system: dopamine resistance.
Dopamine resistance works the same way as insulin resistance or an alcoholic’s tolerance for alcohol.
“Using” pornography (especially video or hardcore porn), stimulates the release of dopamine, the “feel good” hormone responsible for most of your pleasure.
The more your masturbate to porn, the higher the dosage of dopamine your body needs to get aroused and experience sexual pleasure (source).
It doesn’t take long for that dosage to exceed the dopamine hit you get from sex with an actual human being.
The end result is a messed up dopamine pathway, less enjoyment of sex, lowered libido, loss of morning wood and eventually, outright erectile dysfunction.
Bottom line: there’s nothing wrong with masturbation in and of itself, but too much masturbation, especially to porn, can cause problems on three levels:
•It can impact your sex life with an actual partner
•It can reduce your body’s ability to use testosterone
•It can mess up your body’s relationship with dopamine
So practice moderation in your “menage a mois.” If you don’t have a testosterone problem already, masturbating from time to time probably won’t make you have one.
But if you already suffer from low testosterone, it can exacerbate the issue and lead to bigger problems. Further, the other issues I mention suggest it’s actually good for you to go without ejaculating from time to time.
In other words, “save your love” for your partner…and don’t release the mother load every time you feel the urge.
This can enhance the way your body utilizes dopamine and testosterone and improve your relationship in ways that further increase your overall quality of life.
Article edited by Mark Wilson. Mark currently owns 5 sites in the men's sexual health niche and has published more than 5,000 articles and blog posts on dozens of websites all over the world wide web.