Can masturbation cause infertility? In short, the answer is no. So you can breathe a sigh of relief. 

Masturbation is completely normal and healthy. Incorporating pleasure into your daily and weekly routines is equally as important as other areas of wellness such as working out, eating a nutrient-rich diet, and getting high-quality sleep. 

There have been layers of shame placed on top of female masturbation over the years, which has conditioned women to think it’s “bad,” when in reality, sexual health is a major component of your overall health and vitality. 

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How masturbation affects your body 

When you masturbate and reach an orgasm, your body releases a flurry of “feel good” chemicals and goes through a series of physical events. 

Here’s what goes down:

  • Oxytocin release: oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, is released during an orgasm; it’s associated with feelings of trust, relaxation, and emotional bonding 

  • Endorphin release: orgasm triggers the release of endorphins, natural pain-relieving and pleasure-inducing chemicals produced in the brain

  • Prolactin release: prolactin, the hormone associated with lactation and breastfeeding, is also released during orgasm; it produces feelings of satisfaction and relaxation, and contributes to the refractory period, which sometimes makes it challenging to have back-to-back orgasms 

  • Dopamine release: dopamine, a brain neurotransmitter involved in reward, is released during orgasm; it contributes to feelings of pleasure, desire, and motivation

  • Serotonin release: serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter involved in mood, is also affected by orgasm; it contributes to senses of well-being and relaxation 

  • Pelvic floor contractions: during an orgasm, the muscles in your pelvic region experience rhythmic contractions, which are often pleasurable and give you a sense of tension releases

  • Increased blood flow, heart rate, and blood pressure: leading up to orgasm, blood flow to the genital area increases, which creates heightened sensitivity; there’s also a temporary increase in HR and BP due to elevated arousal and the need to pump blood to various parts of the body 

These hormones and the physical experience combined are what make an orgasm a pleasurable, stress-relieving event. And since it only occurs temporarily, there’s no permanent effect on your hormones. 

In fact, getting your daily dose of oxytocin and serotonin can help offset elevated cortisol (the stress hormone), reduce anxiety, and even regulate your mood and other hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. 

Can masturbation affect fertility? 

Though a handful of researchers have investigated this area, there has been no evidence to support that masturbation is negatively linked to ovulation, menstruation, fertilization, implantation, or overall fertility. 

Because a woman doesn’t release an egg during orgasm, there’s no direct tie to the conception process or concern about it affecting her ovarian reserve.

Can a vibrator cause infertility? 

Vibrators also cannot cause infertility, nor has any link between the two ever been demonstrated. 

However, it's important to note that prolonged, frequent, and intense use of a vibrator can potentially lead to desensitization in the genital area. This can make it more difficult to achieve orgasm or experience pleasure from other forms of stimulation, such as from your partner

It’s also possible to have an allergic reaction or experience irritation after using a vibrator due to friction or the use of certain manufacturing materials such as phthalates, PFAS, BPA, and other chemicals that show up in plastic-based goods. In general, look for body-safe materials like medical-grade silicone and other non-permeable materials like pyrex or elastomer. 

woman holding a bright pink vibrator

Can masturbation in males cause infertility? 

We know you’re probably thinking, “What about the men?” Frequent male masturbation isn’t likely to have much effect on fertility, though it’s a little bit more complicated since men do release sperm when they ejaculate. 

The general thought is that men produce their highest quality sperm after ejaculating 2-3 days prior, but there are also data to suggest there’s no relationship between ejaculation timing and sperm health (especially in men with normal counts).

The only time male masturbation becomes an issue is when he’s ejaculating multiple times a day, for multiple days in a row. A healthy male produces over 1,000 sperm every second, but the body also releases up to 300 million sperm during ejaculation. 

That being said, excessive ejaculation in men can cause the rate of sperm depletion to be higher than the rate of sperm production, though this is generally quite rare. 

The benefits of masturbation

1. Stress reduction: the endorphins and other “feel good” chemicals released during an orgasm help offset elevated cortisol and promote relaxation 

2. Pain relief: because endorphins also have pain-relieving qualities, orgasms may help temporarily relieve headaches, menstrual cramps, and other types of pain 

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3. Improved sleep: oxytocin and prolactin, two hormones released during an orgasm, help promote deeper sleep  

4. Enhanced mood and emotional well-being: regular orgasms have been associated with reduced symptoms of depression in light of the cocktail of positive brain neurotransmitters activated 

5. Boosted immune function: the increased circulation, stress reduction, and release of oxytocin that takes place during orgasm may offer potential immune benefits, especially given oxytocin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects

6. Improved pelvic floor: the contractions that occur during orgasm help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which are critical for bowel and bladder control, as well as sexual satisfaction 

7. Cardiovascular health: the temporary increase in heart rate, the release of endorphins, and improved blood circulation can have positive effects on cardiovascular health

8. Elevated libido and sexual desire: the increased self-exploration and self-awareness that takes place during masturbation can enhance confidence and body positivity, which in turn boosts libido 

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Is it possible to masturbate too much?

It’s perfectly okay to masturbate what some people may consider to be “a lot,” like once or twice daily. As long as masturbation isn’t getting in the way of your everyday life and pulling you away from essential priorities, you shouldn’t question your decision-making too much. However, if you are in a relationship, it’s key to have a healthy combination of self-pleasure and intimacy with your partner. 

The takeaway? Just like going to the gym, eating your protein and veggies, or taking a walk, masturbation and other forms of sexual satisfaction are vital for whole-person health across all genders and sexes. It can’t cause infertility, nor can it boost fertility, but it can improve your sexual health, which is a core pillar of your overall well-being, and that is priceless.

Caroline McMorrow is Rescripted's Content Manager.