Does masturbation cause hair loss?
Dr. Aysha Butt is the Medical Director of FROM MARS, and is a GP Partner at Woodcote NHS Medical Practice.
The link between masturbation and hair loss isn’t a new one.
People have been spreading this false claim for years, but it’s no truer now than it was back then. The moral of this story? Don’t believe everything you read online.
To set the record straight, we’ve decided to debunk this myth and several others. In this guide, we’ll give you the truth about masturbation, male pattern baldness, alopecia and hair thinning.
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CAN TESTOSTERONE FROM MASTURBATING CAUSE HAIR LOSS?
Every man produces the hormone testosterone. It’s the hormone responsible for muscle mass and libido. That’s important because one of the biggest myths about masturbation and hair loss involves testosterone. According to non-experts, testosterone increases when you masturbate. The reason they say this is because testosterone produces a sex hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Like testosterone, DHT gives men their male characteristics, including chest and back hair. But ironically, while DHT promotes body hair growth, it can cause male baldness when it binds to the hair follicle receptors in your scalp.
The link between testosterone and DHT is 100% true, but the claim that masturbating increases testosterone production is not. Medical experts have proven this time and time again, and their observations are backed by a major study. The findings show that adult males who abstained from masturbation for three weeks produced more testosterone than those that didn’t.
Essentially, you can masturbate freely without worrying about your hair receding, thinning or going.
CAN MASTURBATION CAUSE HAIR LOSS THROUGH LOST PROTEINS?
The answer is a categorical no. Yes, your hair follicles are made up of protein. And yes, semen contains protein as well. But the amount you lose through masturbating is so minimal that it’s not worth talking about.
To put this into perspective, there’s about 26g of protein in a handful of peanuts and 5.4g of protein in 100ml of semen. Most men will only really ejaculate 3.7ml of semen at a time, so straight away you can see how tenuous the link between masturbation and protein is. Get enough in your diet and you’ll have no issues.
AND WHAT ABOUT PROLACTIN AND MASTURBATION?
Prolactin is another hormone that’s wrapped up in DIY science. Like many hormones, the role of prolactin is to regulate varying parts of the body. When you ejaculate, the level of prolactin in your body increases slightly. Some people have drawn a loose link between this prolactin increase and hair loss. However just like with protein, the increase in prolactin from ejaculating is so small that you can forget about it being a reason for any hair loss you’re experiencing.
High levels of prolactin can be caused by a tumour in your pituitary gland, and this can result in hair loss as well as thyroid problems.
THREE COMMON MASTURBATION AND HAIR LOSS QUESTIONS ANSWERED
1. WILL DHT FROM MASTURBATING MAKE MY HAIR FALL OUT?
No, when it comes to dihydrotestosterone and masturbation, you have nothing to worry about. Studies have shown that abstaining from masturbation actually causes testosterone to go up, which produces DHT. Either way, you’re fine. If you’re experiencing male pattern baldness and DHT is the cause, it’s likely because your scalp is more sensitive due to hereditary reasons.
2. WILL MASTURBATING REDUCE MY PROTEIN LEVELS?
Being deficient in protein can contribute to hair loss; however, per gram, there’s more protein in eggs, poultry, dairy, legumes and many other foods than a ml of semen. If you have specific dietary requirements and are worried about your protein intake, there are plenty of supplements, and protein shakes out there.
3. SHOULD I STOP MASTURBATING BECAUSE OF PROLACTIN?
Don’t get drawn in by the soft science around prolactin. Yes, it’s a known fact that hormonal imbalances are a contributor to hair loss — our guide to hair loss and your thyroid will give you more information on this — but there are still blatant problems with this line of thinking. Yes, a small amount of prolactin is released after masturbation or after you have sex, but the amount is so tiny that it wouldn’t contribute to hair loss. There are people who do produce too much prolactin, but this is often because of a tumour in the pituitary gland.
WHAT TREATMENTS ARE AVAILABLE TO HAIR LOSS SUFFERERS?
Most people masturbate, and you shouldn’t stop because you’ve read that masturbation causes hair loss. Often the cause is hereditary, but a poor diet, a vitamin deficiency, stress, hormonal imbalances and thyroid issues can also be the hidden culprit. If you’re concerned about any of these, or if you believe your hair loss is still unexplained, your first point of call should be your doctor. They can conduct blood or semen tests to rule out any concerns.
If your hair is receding and you know the cause is hereditary, it will be comforting to know that there are effective treatment options available. The medication we provide is finasteride, which is also sold under the brand name Propecia. Finasteride has been medically proven to slow down the process of balding in the majority of men. You’ll find information about both on our hair loss product pages. Alternatively, the FROM MARS blog is updated regularly with advice on hair loss, treatments, and the impact of other conditions and factors like stress.