Masturbation, and any topics relating to sex, have been taboo for decades. Often because they aren’t talked about openly, there’s a ton of misinformation. These speculations — spread on forums and other less-than-reliable sources — sneak their way into popular thought.
Speculative people, in particular men, often worry that their masturbation habit (don’t worry guys, you’re not alone) causes downstream negative effects. Meanwhile, they ignore the potential benefits, such as masturbation’s link (in men and women) to pain relief and stress reduction.
While excessive porn is in many cases a big problem — and one that’s out of the scope of this article — a lot of the physiological questions that people stress about with regards to masturbation simply don’t matter that much.
As the expression goes, this is missing the forest for the trees.
Whether masturbation impacts testosterone, especially in men, has quite a breadth of research.
For example, this 2003 study showed that testosterone slightly rose after five days of not ejaculating, peaking at day 7. A simple conclusion from this may be that testosterone drops from ejaculation.
But the problem with this line of thinking is in either direction the effect was minimal. If you’re worried about testosterone, masturbation is not where you should focus your resources.
There are TONS of other more important intervention, many of which we covered in this article on sex drive.
For example, if you’re worried about decreasing strength, then you should prioritize developing a solid strength training routine.
If you have this, then you don’t need to worry about masturbation’s effects on your strength levels.
If you’re concerned with building strength, muscle, and overall health, then dialing in your sleep should be a high priority.
One of the hormonal effects of masturbation, in particular ejaculation, is that it elevates a hormone called prolactin. When we have elevated prolactin, our motivation decreases temporarily.
If your masturbation habit is leaving you unmotivated to go to the gym, then indirectly it will harm your gains. However, this is rare. As long as you have solid workout habits and are going to the gym consistently, it’s not a problem.
With this in mind, the opposite point, that ejaculation will enhance your performance, is also ridiculous. In both directions, the effect of normal, healthy masturbation and ejaculation is minor.
Now, there are problems that correlate with masturbation. The biggest of which is the downstream negative health effects of excessive porn.
The porn industry knows exactly how to grab our attention and keep it. They supply unrealistic images and scenes that are incredibly addicting and lead to a spiral of more serious porn.
This means you may have a hard time getting it up during actual sex with a real person, and it may lead to premature ejaculation.
(If you suffer from premature ejaculation, you can check out our articles on 12 foods to improve premature ejaculation.)
An alternative, then, is real sex, or at least, developing a masturbation routine that doesn’t rely on porn.
Indirectly, by wreaking on many areas of your life, may harm your gym habit as well and crush your gains.
Whatever your goals are, whether about health, performance, strength, building muscle, and more, they begin with sound habits. If you have your exercise, nutrition, and sleep routines dialed in, then questions like this are much less important, if they matter at all.