Getting to grips with it
Look, there’s no shame in it. No matter how much of a stud you are or aren’t, there are times when we all need to take matters into our own hands. Whether it’s because you’re currently single or because you keep your T naturally high and nobody can keep up with your libido, sometimes a five knuckle shuffle is the only option.
Most of us probably consider this me-time an enjoyable and harmless quick fix, but what about the long term? What effect does masturbation actually have on testosterone levels?
Is it beneficial, like still turning your car engine over occasionally while it’s temporarily off the road? Or are we just wasting the precious testosterone we should be saving for company?
The fundamental question here is, does ejaculation lower T? Let’s dig into the science.
It’s good news. Pick any kind of mammal you want, seemingly orgasm doesn’t alter serum testosterone negatively. In 1978 a study of hormone levels in mice before and after found no change. Likewise in 1977, 3 similar experiments on 10 rhesus monkeys reported no difference. Finally readings taken from 7 guys, for a 1972 study, following their solo work noted that T concentration held up fine.
Hold on a second though. Before you run off to celebrate with your groin like you’ve won a grand prix, you should know that quantity does affect quality.
Crucially, all the subjects in those previous masturbation trials were one and done, so to speak.
A 2007 investigation by the Centre for Advanced Studies in Mexico City shows the dangers of overdoing it. Using lab rats the team found that regularly masturbating more than twice daily reduces androgen receptors in the brain. Testosterone binds to these receptors so it can be put into active use by your body. When they drop so does demand for and production of testosterone.
It gets worse. In a separate study from Mexico that same year it was discovered if you’re too hands on over a long period of time estrogen receptors will step in where your androgen receptors left off. That means more of demand for and production of the female hormone which for best performance, we should all be trying to keep to a minimum.
It takes two
What about sex then? Surely the same applies. Ejaculation is ejaculation whether you’ve got another body on board or not, right? Well actually, no.
There are a number of studies that illustrate this. For example the infamous trial by Escasa et al, which involved inviting 44 men to a swingers club. After checking baseline T, subjects split into shirts and skins. That is, men having watching the sex and those taking part.
Hormone readings after the event saw those having sex get a 72% rise in T compared to just 11% for onlookers.
A 1992 work which tested 4 heterosexual couples over the course of 22 nights – 11 sexually active and 11 not – found T volume rose for both partners on the sexier nights. Ten years earlier in 1982, a study of older men over 60 who were still having sex regularly had “significantly higher levels of serum testosterone” for their age.
A 1980 study using rats found that just the anticipation of sex may get testosterone moving in the right direction. So even if it doesn’t ultimately pan out, cheer up, they’ve still done you a performance enhancing favor.
But what if you’re a guy who once he’s popped, he can’t stop? Is it safer to avoid temptation altogether? Either in terms of masturbation, until you get the real thing, or sex if you need to store that T up for some other clothed activity.
Well, we’ve touched on this in another article but it’s worth looking at again here. It’s all a question of how long you leave it really.
A study of men undergoing 3 weeks of abstinence for instance did see hormone levels rise. By the end of those 21 days most experienced a slight improvement. More impressive however was an even shorter experiment of just 1 week. After 7 days of successfully fighting the urge these chaste fellas saw an average boost of 145.7% to T, which slowly returned to normal once they caved.
On the other hand (not literally) a trial of men who went without for 3 months saw their overall T drop. Though these men were suffering with erectile dysfunction so possibly had an underlying condition, this longer term work does indicate that if you don’t use it, eventually, you lose it. Some of it anyway.
In a way y’know, orgasming is a lot like playing the game Call of Duty.
Yes there are a lot of first-person shooter jokes to be made here. All we mean is, generally, ejaculation better in multiplayer mode than one player. Sex never does your T any harm. It’s a positive loop. Sex promotes higher T, higher T gives you a greater appetite for sex.
That said, provided you show a bit of self control and don’t absolutely exhaust your body, masturbation doesn’t lower male hormone either. A grapple a day won’t keep the T away.
If you’re regularly tempted to head down town multiple times however, maybe try to calm the palm a bit. You’ll thank me later.