Masturbation And Hair Loss Myths
Last updated on : May 02 2022
- Myth #1: Masturbation Increases DHT Levels
- Myth #2: Masturbation Depletes Nutrients
- Myth #3: Masturbation Causes Hormonal Imbalance
Masturbation has long been stigmatized by society at large. And the many myths and half-truths that people are taught to believe from a young age don't help.
One myth is that masturbation causes physical health side effects, including hair loss. But are the rumors true?
In this article, Will Slator from Hairguard.com will discuss the various myths surrounding masturbation and hair loss and why they aren't true.
We'll then delve into the actual causes of hair loss in men and women and the benefits of masturbation.
Masturbation And Hair Loss Myths
There are plenty of myths surrounding masturbation, but hair loss is one of the most concerning. Let's look at the most common myths about masturbation and hair loss.
Myth #1: Masturbation Increases DHT Levels
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is an androgen sex steroid and hormone. It's a metabolite of testosterone, and it's found throughout the body, including the liver and prostate, the brain, the skin, and the hair follicles.
For men with male-pattern baldness, also known as Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA), the presence of DHT in the hair follicles can trigger inflammation. This inflammation then leads to miniaturization of the hair follicles, which soon results in thinning of the hair and hair fall.
It makes sense, then, that men with a genetic predisposition to AGA would want to avoid increasing the levels of DHT in their bodies and on the scalp. Because of this, it's often recommended that they avoid masturbation to "control" their DHT levels.
Does masturbation increase DHT levels, though? According to a few scientific studies on the topic, no.
The researchers were particularly interested in the levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), total testosterone, and free testosterone.
As the results showed, "statistical analysis revealed no significant differences between patients and normal controls."
Researchers similarly reached this conclusion in a separate study. You may be thinking, "but this study looked at testosterone levels, not DHT levels."
And yes, that's true. But as DHT is produced from testosterone, it would make sense that similar testosterone levels would result in similar DHT levels.
So, according to research on the topic, masturbation and sexual activity do NOT increase DHT levels. As a result, masturbation cannot be accurately linked to hair loss in any meaningful way.
Myth #2: Masturbation Depletes Nutrients
You likely learned that semen contains various nutrients and proteins in your high school health class. But what kinds of nutrients, and how much of each, does it have?
A man will ejaculate between 1.25 and 5.00 ml of semen in one "session."
The semen contains a variety of vitamins and nutrients, including:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B12
Perhaps the most significant concern of men with balding is their loss of protein. After all, hair is made of keratin, a protein. So let's consider just how much protein is typically found in the semen during one ejaculation session.
According to a 2013 study on the topic, a man ejaculates about 5,040 mg of protein in 100 mL of semen. At 3.7 mL per ejaculatory load, about 186 mg of protein per session is lost.
To put this into terms that make more sense, consider that 186 mg of protein is 0.186 grams. The average male is recommended to eat 56 grams of protein per day. So the loss of 0.186 grams of protein once or twice per day is negligible.
What about the other nutrients? Zinc, iron, and vitamin B12 play a role in hair growth, but does ejaculation significantly lose these vitamins and minerals?
According to the same study cited above, the loss of these nutrients varies from person to person and can vary quite significantly.
The loss of zinc per 100 mL of semen, for example, has ranged from 6.78 mg to 69.29 mg across various studies. The same can be said for the ranges of potassium (50 mg to 247.7 mg) and calcium (13.7 mg to 53.3 mg), among other nutrients.
However, overall, the nutrient loss is negligible when considering the typical size of an ejaculatory load (3.7 mL). And so, masturbation and sexual activity do not deplete nutrients enough to cause concern for hair loss sufferers.
Myth #3: Masturbation Causes Hormonal Imbalance
This myth is a similar line of thinking to Myth #1, but it deserves its spot on our list.
It's often stated that masturbation can cause a long-term imbalance in testosterone levels. As outlined above, there is no scientific evidence to back these claims. Evidence suggests that testosterone increases during arousal, but it has no long-term side effects.
Masturbation can cause a surge of certain hormones immediately following ejaculation. These hormones include dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin, associated with stress relief and happiness.
Endocrine system disorders, such as diabetes, hypo- and hyperthyroidism, Cushing syndrome, and external factors like stress, medications, or injury/trauma are the more common causes of hormonal imbalance and are unrelated to masturbation.
What Causes Hair Loss?
If masturbation isn't responsible for your hair loss, then what is? Consider the most common types of hair loss as outlined below.
Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA), more commonly known as male-pattern baldness, is the most common cause of hair loss in men. It's a progressive disorder that is genetic.
It's well-documented that men with male-pattern baldness are sensitive to the hormone DHT, an androgen. It's not that they have more of the androgen. Their follicles are just more sensitive to its presence resulting in inflammation and miniaturization of the hair follicles.
As the inflammation and miniaturization progress, the typical M-shaped pattern of hair loss occurs. If left untreated, it will result in worsening hair loss until, eventually, the crown and hairline are entirely bald with just patches of hair left on the sides of the scalp.
As shown above, masturbation does not increase DHT or androgen levels. As such, it has no impact on the progression of male-pattern baldness.
Alopecia Areata is a hair loss condition seen in men and women. It's characterized by complete patches of hair loss on the scalp, often in a circular pattern.
The actual cause of alopecia areata is still unknown. It's thought to be an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack its hair follicles, resulting in patchy hair loss across the scalp.
There is no cure for alopecia areata, though steroids are sometimes prescribed during a flare to treat the condition temporarily.
An often overlooked cause of hair loss is physical and psychological stress. Stress significantly affects your body, including its hormone levels and usual functions.
How can you know if stress is the cause? Hair loss caused by stress is often diffuse or all over - which means you'll likely experience excessive shedding throughout the scalp and not just in one area (like the hairline or crown).
The good news? Hair loss triggered by a stressful event or period is often temporary and reversible.
Medication and Illness
Medication and illness can interrupt the body's typical functioning causing side effects including increased shedding and hair loss. We call the hair loss effluvium when the trigger is medication or illness.
When the hair loss occurs during the hair growth cycle (either during the anagen phase or telogen phase) will determine the type of effluvium.
Anagen effluvium increases thinning and hair loss during the hair growth cycle's anagen (active) phase. Only a few drugs trigger this hair loss type, including many chemotherapy drugs.
Telogen effluvium is the more common of the two types of effluviums. It occurs during the telogen, or resting phase, of hair growth.
You can tell the difference by examining the fallen hairs. If the majority have a white bulb at the end of them, you're likely to be experiencing telogen effluvium. If the hairs are without the bulb, then it's anagen effluvium.
There's generally no treatment for either of these conditions. Once the medication is stopped, or the illness has resolved, they will usually resolve independently. It can take six months to a year before the excess shedding stops.
Other Common Masturbation Myths
With the stigma surrounding masturbation and sexual pleasure, it's no surprise that myths abound. Here's a look at the most common masturbation myths with no scientific evidence to support them.
According to the most common myths, masturbation can:
- Lead to blindness
- Cause unwanted hair growth (on the palms, for example)
- Lead to impotence in men
- Lead to infertility in women
- Damage the genitals
It's important to remember these myths manifested due to religious and societal guilt surrounding masturbation, sex, and sexual pleasure. These myths have no grounding in reality.
Are There Any Benefits to Masturbation?
With society focusing on the potential downsides of masturbation (of which there are few grounded in truth), it can be challenging to think of masturbation as beneficial.
However, masturbation does have proven benefits, including:
- Stress relief
- Mood booster
- Temporary pain relief (menstrual cramps, mild aches, and pains, etc.)
- Sexual tension release
- Sleep promoter
- Sexual health
The benefits of masturbation are primarily emotional and physiological. Of course, not all individuals will experience the same benefits.
Are There Risks Associated with Masturbation?
While we've disproven some of the most commonly believed risks of masturbation, it's essential to know that there are some risks associated with the act.
The most common risk is addiction. Addiction to masturbation or sexual pleasure can occur if moderation is not practiced.
How can you know if you are addicted to masturbation? If the act has begun to interfere with your relationships, school or work, or overall mental health, it's time to seek help.
It's also possible that masturbation, even when practiced in moderation, can cause feelings of guilt and shame. You can often overcome these with sexual education.
If you're worried about your masturbatory habits, a doctor or sex therapist can help.
If you were someone who previously thought that masturbation could cause hair loss, then rejoice. The myths surrounding masturbation and hair loss are mainly unfounded and, in many cases, even contrary to scientific research on the topic.
To treat the actual cause of your hair loss, you'll need to pinpoint the cause first. The most common causes of hair loss in men and women include:
- Androgenetic alopecia
- Alopecia areata
The good news is that masturbation will not contribute to hair loss caused by any of the above triggers, and it could even help (in cases of stress-induced hair loss, for example).
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The Kewl Shop
The Kewl Shop is a blog. We write about all things lifestyle with a strong focus on relationships, self-love, beauty, fitness, and health. Important stuff that every modern woman or man needs to know.
Editor: Charles Fitzgerald