There are many urban legends about masturbation, ranging from beliefs that masturbation can result in you going blind to myths about masturbation causing hair to grow on the palms of your hands. One of the legends is that masturbation can cause you to lose scalp hair, either in the form of a receding hairline or total baldness.
Like the other masturbation myths, the idea that masturbation will cause your hair to fall out isn’t true. There’s absolutely no scientific evidence linking masturbation to hair loss, nor is there any relationship between the amount of sex you have and the thickness or health of your hair.
Interestingly, some of the websites that claim masturbation causes baldness back up their hair loss claims with evidence that sounds quite reasonable. There are a lot of scientific terms used and mentions of hormones, protein deficiencies and minerals in seminal fluid.
Below, we’ll look at some of the common reasons masturbation is claimed to cause hair loss and debunk some of the nonsense "science" used to back up these claims.
Dihydrotestosterone, more commonly known as DHT, is a male sex hormone that’s the primary cause of male pattern baldness.
DHT binds to receptors in your scalp and miniaturises the hair follicles around your hairline and crown, resulting in hair loss for men with a genetic sensitivity to DHT.
One of the most common reasons used to back up the claim that masturbation causes hair loss is that masturbating results in a release of hormones, including DHT.
Like most urban legends, real scientific data totally contradicts the claim that masturbation has any effect on DHT and other male hormones. In fact, there are several studies that show sexual activity has no measurable effect on testosterone or DHT production.
One study compares men with normal sexual function to men with sexual dysfunction. The final results show that both groups of men have statistically similar levels of testosterone.
Another study compares men with normal sexual activity levels to men that deliberately avoided sexual activity. Blood sample data showed no difference between the two groups in the levels of total testosterone, free testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH).
Since DHT is a metabolite of testosterone, it’s extremely unlikely that sexual activity (whether it’s masturbation or sexual intercourse) has any effect, positive or negative, on DHT levels.
While it’s true that semen does contain protein, masturbating or having sex doesn’t have any significant effect on the amount of protein available for your hair follicles.
On average, there’s about 5040 mg of protein in every 100mL of semen. Since the average amount of semen released during each ejaculation is 3.7mL, this means you need to either have sex or masturbate 27 times to release just over five grams of protein.
To put this in perspective, you consume about six grams of protein every time you eat an egg, and 30 to 60 grams every time you eat a chicken breast.
The amount of protein you lose when you orgasm is insignificant compared to the average person’s dietary protein intake. Even if you spend all day masturbating, you’ll still consume about 10 to 50 times as much protein in your diet, provided you eat relatively healthily.
Just like the supposed link between masturbation and DHT, there’s no correlation between masturbation and protein deficiency.
This myth is a variation on the "masturbation affects DHT" claim we debunked above, albeit with the added claim of masturbation affecting the total balance of hormones in your body.
While it’s true that sex does have some effect on the levels of certain hormones in your body, it’s a temporary effect that isn’t linked to hair loss.
The most significant hormone released during sex is oxytocin, which is a peptide hormone that affects pleasure centres in your brain. This is one of the reasons why sex and masturbation feel good, but it’s not linked to the health or thickness of your hair.
Interestingly, there is some limited evidence that oxytocin could have an effect on the conversion of testosterone to DHT. However, there’s no evidence specifically showing that masturbation has any specific impact on DHT that wouldn't also occur in other situations that produce oxytocin.
Since your body will release oxytocin when you do things like hold hands with your partner or gaze into their eyes, there’s no reason to specifically worry about oxytocin released during sex or masturbation affecting your hairline.
Male pattern baldness is caused by DHT, which is made when your body converts testosterone into DHT through the 5α-reductase enzyme. At no point does masturbation play any real role in the process of causing hair follicles to miniaturise and stop growing.
If you’ve noticed your hair falling out or your hairline starting to recede, it’s far more likely to be a side effect of sensitivity to DHT, stress, nutrition or lifestyle issues than the result of too much masturbation.
You can treat these by taking action to lower your DHT levels using medication or changing your diet and lifestyle to eliminate the factors that contribute to hair loss.
In short, you can rest easy. Masturbation won’t affect your hairline, hair thickness or any aspect of your hair health. Neither will sex. If either did, the vast majority of the world’s population would have serious hair loss problems and the medical community would be very much aware of it.