We’re living in an era of low-cost on-demand sexual gratification. To be specific, porn is everywhere, and many men admit to watching it more often than they’d like to admit.
Masturbation is normal, healthy behaviour, but it's not a risk-free activity. Masturbation is the physical stimulation of the genital organs, usually to the point of orgasm, for sexual pleasure or relief of sexual tension. In other words, masturbation is the self-stimulation of the genitals to orgasm.
But the last few decades have given us many opportunities to enjoy sexual pleasure and orgasm with our own hands. We now have the Internet, which provides instant and easy access to porn and more frequent opportunities for masturbation.
So, could masturbation be causing any adverse effects, such as lowering our testosterone or causing other health issues? We'll go over this, and more.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, responsible for a man’s sex drive, sperm production, body hair, and muscle mass. It’s an anabolic hormone, which means it causes an increase in muscle mass, strength and bone density. It’s also responsible for secondary male sex characteristics, such as a deep voice and facial hair.
For men, the production of testosterone is crucial for sexual health, and it helps with overall health, as well.
Testosterone is frequently called a male sex hormone, but women also have it in their bodies. And, as men age, their testosterone levels gradually decrease.
How Does Testosterone Change in the Body Throughout the Day?
Your body has a natural cycle of hormones that fluctuates during the day. On average, your testosterone levels are the highest in the morning, and it drops to its lowest point at night.
During the day, testosterone levels rise and fall in a predictable cycle. Testosterone levels start to rise after around six to seven hours of sleep, reaching a peak level in the early afternoon. They then start to fall, reaching their lowest point in the late evening.
This cycle happens every day, even on weekends, and it’s controlled by the secretion of the hormone progesterone.
Can Masturbation Lower Testosterone?
Truth be told, science is a bit conflicted, and there is a varying amount of information and studies out there that give us answers all over the board. However, it's generally accepted that masturbation doesn’t directly affect the levels of testosterone in your body, but it might cause fluctuations in the testosterone levels in your body.
The body has a natural anti-stress hormone, called cortisol, which is also known as the “stress hormone.” When you’re stressed, your body releases more cortisol.
Cortisol is like a double-edged sword. On one hand, cortisol can cause negative effects, such as muscle breakdown and higher blood sugar levels. On the other hand, cortisol also helps your body deal with stress, so it can help you deal with other stress-related issues.
Higher levels of cortisol can also cause a decrease in testosterone levels. And, orgasm is also known to cause a surge in cortisol. This is why orgasms are spectacular at relieving stress, but they can also cause you to feel tired for awhile after.
What Actually Causes Low Testosterone?
Depression - Depression is associated with low testosterone levels in men. This is because depression is thought to be the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, which leads to a lack of chemicals that help you feel happy. Testosterone is one of the chemicals that facilitates feeling happiness. It also increases energy levels and boosts your sex drive, two things that help human beings stay happy. However, scientists are still studying what depression does to the brain, so it’s not certain whether depression causes low testosterone levels or low testosterone levels cause depression.
Alcohol Abuse - Alcohol abuse is another cause of low testosterone levels. Alcohol has been shown to reduce testosterone levels, which can also cause erectile dysfunction. This is because alcohol has a damaging effect on the cells responsible for producing testosterone. In addition, alcohol abuse may cause liver problems, which may cause testosterone production to slow down.
Obesity - Obesity is another huge factor in low testosterone levels. The more fat you have around your body, the more testosterone is converted into estrogen. This is because an enzyme called aromatase converts testosterone into estrogen. The more body fat you have, the more aromatase you have, and the more testosterone is converted into estrogen. This is why men with more body fat have lower testosterone levels.
Medications - Some medications can cause low testosterone levels as well. For example, drugs used to treat cancer, such as chemotherapy drugs and steroids, may reduce testosterone levels.
Genetics - Genetics may also play a role in your testosterone levels. Some men are just born with naturally low testosterone levels. If your father had low testosterone levels, you may be more likely to have low levels as well.
Natural Ways To Increase Testosterone Levels
The best ways to increase testosterone levels in the body are the same things you should do to keep your body healthy in general. This includes eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and managing stress.
If you're looking for things you can do to boost your testosterone levels, here are a few things that you can try:
Exercise - Exercise seems like it's the answer to most issues, but it's especially true when it comes to maintaining healthy hormone production levels. Exercise increases the amount of testosterone your body releases, and it also helps your body produce more testosterone.
Exercises that work your upper body muscles the most, such as bench presses and pull-ups, are the best for raising testosterone levels.
Starting a Healthier Diet - Plant-based foods and whole foods are popular for a reason. They're usually the best for your body, and they can help you increase testosterone levels. Having less fat in your diet is a great way to both improve your hormone levels as well as keep your heart healthy and arteries clean. Blood flow and circulation issues often lead to more serious issues, such as erectile dysfunction, so it's best to have a healthy diet for the long term.
Sleeping 7+ Hours - You've probably heard that you need a certain number of hours of sleep every night, but did you know that the amount of sleep you get directly affects your hormone levels?
Studies show that too little sleep leads to less testosterone in the body. This is because the body needs at least 7 hours of sleep every night to help your body balance its hormones.
Take Care of your Mental Health - While you might think that the mind and the body are completely separate, they are actually very connected. Because of this, it's important that your mental health is in check.
If you manage stress well, you can help keep your hormones balanced, which will lead to higher levels of testosterone. It's not just stress, though. Balancing mental health can help keep you healthy in general, so if you're facing issues, it's a good idea to work on it. Try therapy, meditations, and spend more time outdoors.
This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.