The Truth About Testosterone and Sexual Abstinence

Dispelling the Myths

Here’s the actual science as it relates to testosterone levels and fertility.

Believe it or not, thousands of young men avoid masturbation (and even sex with real-life women) because they think it boosts their testosterone levels and overall animal magnetism. Many think they’re not muscular or attractive to women because they’ve been “wasting” their manly essence. Sometimes this is called the “NoFap” movement.

Why are so many males suddenly embracing the idea? Part of it may be a noble effort to help them fight porn addiction. Another part of it may lie in watered-down Eastern mysticism: the idea of preserving “sexual energy” and virility.

There are also some sane – but probably incorrect – reasons for practicing semen retention, among them the belief that abstaining for a few days or even weeks (not months or years, though) results in increased fertility, thereby increasing their chances of making a baby.

Does any of this have merit? Let’s break it down.

Does Abstinence Boost Testosterone?

To date, there’s almost no research supporting the notion that abstinence increases testosterone levels. Quite the contrary, watching naughty movies or engaging in sexual activity appears to raise testosterone levels, albeit temporarily (Van Anders and Watson, 2006).

Another study found that engaging in sexual activity again raised T levels temporarily (Escasa et al.). Likewise, Das and Sawin conducted a longitudinal study with older males and females and found that a higher masturbation frequency predicted higher levels of testosterone.

Then there are the studies on patients with erectile dysfunction. Low sexual activity or loss of sexual activity is associated with low testosterone, while resuming sexual activities restores testosterone levels.

However, the No-Fappers have their research ammo, too. One paper (Hartmann, 2020) asserts that refraining from masturbation promotes stronger mental health. Another reported a peak in testosterone levels after seven days of abstinence. The sample size was very small, though, and the results couldn’t be duplicated.

Another study measured the effects of three weeks of sexual abstinence on the neuroendocrine response to masturbation. They did indeed find that it elevated testosterone, but only by a measly 0.5 mg/dl. Not enough to make a lick of difference in muscle gain or fat loss.

The preponderance of the evidence, though, suggests that sexual activity leads to higher testosterone levels.

What About Increased Sperm Quality from Abstinence?

As mentioned, there’s a sane reason for practicing abstinence, at least temporarily. Many wanna-be fathers believe that the longer you hold out, the heftier their fertile punch will be. But is there any evidence to support this?

Fertility scientists evaluate sperm quality using several parameters, but a review of 28 studies (Hanson et al., 2018) concluded that the impact of abstinence on fertility is complex and inconclusive.

There is, however, some evidence that abstaining for less than three days is associated with higher pregnancy rates, at least in cases of artificial insemination. Other studies conclude that abstinence could be recommended (for fertility) but with a plateau being reached after a few days (De Jonge et al., 2004).

Does Ejaculatory Volume Have Any Importance?

There’s another reason some men want to practice periods of abstinence: to increase ejaculatory volume. But producing more ejaculate is associated, wrongly, with increased fertility.

Yes, abstinence leads to increased volume. Studies say that every day you wait between ejaculations, you increase your volume by 12%. This added volume tops out after about five days. But more volume doesn’t necessarily equate to a greater chance of pregnancy. Only about 5% of ejaculate is actually sperm.

But if you want to keep your volume up, there are several hacks you could use:

  • Make sure your testosterone levels are up to snuff. Having low levels results in low volume.
  • Take care of your prostate. When it grows with age, volume and ejaculatory force decrease. Use Biotest’s P-Well (Buy at Amazon) to support prostate function and health.
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  • Take pomegranate extract (punicaligan) and lycopene, both of which increase ejaculate volume and sperm motility. Both are contained in Biotest’s P-Well (Buy at Amazon) formulation.
  • Take zinc, which also increases the production of semen volume. About 30 mg a day is the sweet spot. Use the chelated form for better absorption. Elitepro Vital Minerals (Buy at Amazon) contains 30 mg of the chelated form.
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  • Try Maca root. Studies show that taking approximately 3 grams of this herb can improve sperm quality and semen volume.
  • Use hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). You’ve really got to be obsessed about semen volume to go this route, but to each his own. The drug, particularly when used in conjunction with testosterone replacement therapy, at the very least preserves semen volume and probably increases it.
  • Hydrate. Don’t smoke. Watch the alcohol.
  • Engage in foreplay. It literally primes the pump.

To Give In or Not to Give In?

Researchers from UCLA surveyed 587 fapstainers and nearly 30% said they’d experienced suicidal thoughts when they inevitably broke their vows of self-celibacy. These thoughts were preceded by feelings of shame, anxiety, and depression, especially when they participated in NoFap groups online.

Clearly, masturbation is complex. It obviously can affect our physical and mental health. But maybe the UCLA study says more about the role internet groups play in mental health.

Obviously, men have different reasons to fap or not fap. But abstinence doesn’t raise testosterone and it doesn’t make you more manly or virile. So, fap or don’t fap. Just don’t ascribe any false medical beliefs to it.

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I would’ve never guessed it, but the “no fap” movement is pretty widespread. In fact, when T Nation posts anything about testosterone on social media, the no-fappers come out of the woodwork.

It’s very cult-ish… and most of these young men aren’t very nice. Maybe they’re a bit pent-up. Hey, maybe that’s why they think it boosts T levels: they’re angry, so it must be all that overflowing T and not their lack of women and avoidance of nature’s pressure-valve release. Just a theory.

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No joke. Wife and I have both made comments about this when there’s been a small gap in love making.

Anecdotally it made sense, been a few days or week or so, haven’t masturbated, but now there’s science!

BTW, this is the kind of imagery the no-fap/semen-retention movement uses. I bet there’s a strong overlap with the incel dudes.


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In fairness, many of these guys really are just trying to kick a serious porn addiction. Given the severity of this in some cases, I suppose they could lose fat and build muscle if they stopped wanking 20 times per day: more time and energy.

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But it a great for building grip strength… unless you really over do it and get Carpal tunnel.

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