Masturbation has been blamed for lots of ailments throughout history, including blindness, fertility problems, and hair loss. 18th and 19th century doctors wrote books and pamphlets warning against the range of illnesses and conditions that could be brought about by excessive or even moderate masturbation [1-2].
In the 21st century, however, these myths have been debunked. There’s no scientific evidence to suggest that masturbation causes hair loss.
That said, no modern scientific studies have been carried out to examine the relationship between masturbation and hair loss. And both are common — in a survey of 2,000+ adults, 80% of people said they masturbate . So how can we be sure?
In this article, you’ll learn where the suggested link between masturbation and hairfall comes from, and why it’s a myth that masturbation causes hair loss.
Why do people say masturbation causes hair loss?
There are two main theories behind the suggestion that male masturbation causes hair loss:
- Semen contains high levels of protein. When you ejaculate, you remove protein the body needs to fulfil other functions, including hair growth.
- Masturbating increases testosterone levels. More testosterone leads to higher DHT levels, which increases the risk of premature male pattern baldness.
While there is some fact within these theories, it’s not possible that masturbation actually causes hair loss. Here’s why.
Myth #1: masturbation leads to protein loss which prevents hair growth
It’s true that lack of protein can result in hair loss . It’s also true that semen contains some protein. But the protein lost through masturbation isn’t enough to cause hair loss in itself.
Let’s do the maths. Semen protein content ranges from 20 to 60mg per millilitre . Every time a man ejaculates, he releases approximately 5ml of semen. Assuming he has the maximum protein content of 60mg per ml, he loses 300mg of protein each time he masturbates.
By comparison, men should eat 55g of protein per day on average . This is more than 180 times the amount of protein expelled when you ejaculate. So assuming you’re eating a reasonably balanced diet, you’ll easily replenish any protein lost through masturbation.
Learn more about the link between protein and hair loss:
- Does whey protein cause hair loss?
- Diet for healthy hair: what do you need?
- 4 key nutrients for healthy hair growth
Myth #2: masturbation increases testosterone levels, leading to hair loss
Dihydrotestosterone, also known as DHT, is the hormone responsible for male pattern baldness. Testosterone metabolises to produce DHT, which then binds to androgen receptors in genetically-predisposed hair follicles. The follicles shrink, causing irreversible hair loss.
It’s also true that testosterone levels are temporarily raised after ejaculation . But this doesn’t last long enough to have a knock-on effect — your testosterone levels will return to normal long before they have a chance to convert to DHT.
In addition, a small study also found that abstaining from masturbation may actually raise your testosterone levels . If higher testosterone levels are linked with not masturbating, it’s unlikely that masturbation leads to greater DHT production in the body.
Learn more about DHT and hair loss:
- Can natural DHT blockers cause hair loss?
- Does testosterone replacement therapy cause hair loss?
- How to treat temple hair loss
Other masturbation health myths
Many other myths about masturbation and health problems also persist. But there’s no evidence that masturbating will cause or contribute to:
- Blindness or vision problems
- Impotence or infertility
- Erectile dysfunction
- Lower libido or sex drive.
If you’re experiencing any of these health problems, it may be a sign of another underlying condition. So it’s important to seek advice from your GP.
Where do these hair loss myths originate?
Hair loss myths around masturbation date back to the 1700s and 1800s. Swiss physician Samuel-Auguste Tissot was particularly well-known for associating masturbation with conditions including blindness and hair loss. In fact, he wrote a treatise called Onanism; Dissertation on Diseases Produced by Masturbation.
In 1830, Le Livre Sans Titre was published to warn against masturbation . This book featured a series of graphic illustrations showing the effects of masturbating, including this one, which translates to: his beautiful hair falls out as in old age; his head is stripped before its time.
This is essentially a description and depiction of what we now know as male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia. Modern science has proven that this is a hereditary hair loss condition driven by hormone levels and androgen receptors in the follicles — not masturbation.
Does masturbation cause hairfall in women?
These myths revolve around male masturbation and hairfall. But the same is true for women — there’s zero evidence to suggest that masturbation causes female hair loss.
So what causes hair loss?
No matter how much you masturbate, it won’t make you lose hair. So if you’re seeing excessive hair loss, there’s another cause behind it. Some of the most common hair loss causes include:
- Pattern baldness (male and female)
- Stress and anxiety-related hair loss
- Autoimmune conditions like alopecia areata
- Poor hair styling practices leading to traction alopecia.
If you’re not sure what’s causing your hair loss, it’s important to speak to a trichologist. They can examine your hair and scalp, assess your lifestyle, and even perform hair loss blood tests to get to the bottom of your hair problems.
Book a free consultation with the trichology team at the Wimpole Clinic on Harley Street to learn more.
- An Essay On Diseases Incident To Literary and Sedentary Persons
- Le livre sans titre : Les conséquences fatales de la masturbation (1830)
- Sexual diversity in the United States: Results from a nationally representative probability sample of adult women and men
- Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use
- Protein content of human seminal plasma and spermatozoa in relation to sperm counts
- Protein: What you need to know | British Heart Foundation
- Is Ejaculation Frequency in Men Related to General and Mental Health? Looking Back and Looking Forward
- Endocrine response to masturbation-induced orgasm in healthy men following a 3-week sexual abstinence
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