Sexual Wellness

Can Masturbation Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Fact Checked

In there a connection between masturbation and ED? The short answer is: Not really. See our guide to answer all your questions about masturbation and erectile dysfunction.

Last Updated: 05/02/2022

Written by

Eric Ridenour

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Paul Thompson

The majority of men masturbate at least once a month. In fact, a recent survey found that over 80% of men masturbate at least weekly. It's a simple and natural act of sexual health that has been practiced by millions of people for thousands of years. 

But, can masturbation cause erectile dysfunction? The short answer is: Not really.

After masturbation, most men have trouble getting an erection, but this is not due to ED. This is the male refractory period and is entirely separate from ED.

Masturbation causing erectile dysfunction is a common myth. Like many who share a common belief that is flawed, it is rooted in some degree of truth due to people confusing this period after sexual contact with lack of sexual desire ejaculation.

What is the male refractory period?

There is a refractory period after something called the resolution stage, which is where you orgasm. A guy cannot get an erection during the refractory phase. 

This is a physiological refractory phase, which means a person is physiologically unable to have intercourse again.

The length of the refractory phase varies from man to man. It might take a half-hour or more for his body to resume sexual activity. 

Healthy young men may just require a few minutes of recovery time. In contrast, older men often have a longer refractory period than younger men, ranging from 12 to 24 hours, possibly even longer if there are other factors to manage.

According to the research

One of the peer reviewed studies looked at the situation of a guy who claimed that his masturbation practices were causing him to be unable to get an erection and consummate his marriage, nearly leading to divorce. 

Eventually, he was diagnosed with severe depressive illness. With the help of sexual education and marital counseling, the couple developed a sexual connection within a few months.

According to some studies by various medical associations, the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine, masturbating to internet porn or other forms of pornography might contribute to ED through psychological factors by desensitizing you to specific visuals, physical contact, and attraction to your male or female partner. 

Watching porn has been researched for its neurological consequences on self-esteem, performance anxiety, compulsive sexual behavior, and other emotional factors relating to sexual dysfunction. 

However, no evidence watching porn may create a physical reaction in sexual health or sexual performance that leads to ED.

Another study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine looked at males and couples who went through behavioral treatment to increase their communication and comprehension of their partners' sexual behaviors related to sexual cue reactivity. 

By the end of the research, individuals reported fewer complaints regarding ED. Though masturbation impacts were not included in the study, it does demonstrate that increased communication between spouses might aid in the treatment of ED.

Can an excessive sex life cause erectile dysfunction?

It has been found that masturbation in itself does not cause ED. Masturbation is practiced by 78 percent of adults worldwide, including 96 percent of British males, 93 percent of German men, and 92 percent of American men

Even with what you've heard, if masturbation caused erectile dysfunction, as is a common belief, humankind would be nearing extinction by now. 

Masturbation can even improve the performance and pleasure in between the sheets. Although masturbation is primarily helpful, it's worth noting that men's testosterone levels can improve in a few weeks by stopping masturbation.

What causes ED?

So far, no studies have shown masturbation can cause ED. However, some studies out there show actual health benefits to masturbation. In fact, masturbation is used to treat health conditions from premature ejaculation to reducing stress, improved concentration, sexual performance anxiety, and better sleep. 

However, in some cases, men who have difficulty getting or retaining erections during masturbation can develop conditions such as Peyronie's disease due to improper blood flow. Among older people, the likelihood of being affected by ED increases significantly due to various potential medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or things like long-term cigarette use. 

Around 40 percent of men over 70 are at risk of ED. However, in men of any age, erectile dysfunction is common. 

Although age may be considered a defining characteristic, numerous factors contribute to ED to a greater extent than one can imagine.

Factors that might contribute to ED in young men include:

  • Stress

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • post-traumatic stress disorder

  • bipolar disorder or drugs for these disorders 

  • being overweight 

  • sleeplessness or lack of sleep

  • urinary tract issues

  • spinal cord damage 

  • multiple sclerosis, or spina bifida

  • Having a high-stress employment 

  • relationship causes 

  • stress 

  • performance anxiety

  • Other psychological causes or health conditions not listed

Is porn causing erectile dysfunction?

The reason for erectile dysfunction is unclear at this point. It is just that there is just no clear scientific evidence that porn in and of itself causes ed

However, other currently published studies also show that behaviors and psychological risk factors resulting from too much porn and excessive masturbation can cause sexual dysfunction and even ED. 

Suppose pornographic behavior is considered problematic towards your ability to perform sexually or threatening to negatively affect your erections. In that case, you need to stop pornography for an extended time. It's not always necessary to completely break out of viewing pornography or masturbation.

Other common causes of ED (besides porn)

While porn may contribute to erectile disorders in older males, it's not necessarily a significant cause. Multiple underlying factors may cause erectile dysfunction. 

A healthy erection depends partly on the strength of the heart and blood flow. Upon sexual stimulation, your brain and nervous system relax, allowing your body receives oxygen. 

A fibrous membrane called tunica albuginea traps blood into our genital area. It allows blood to flow into the erection, affecting the erection quality and allowing you to stay strong in sexual interactions.

Does Masturbating Cause ED?

Masturbation in and of itself does not have a solid correlation to ED. If you can successfully masturbate, you do not have ED. If you have a proper technique, masturbation does not damage your penis or interfere in sexual activity. This myth of masturbation causing depression or edema appears to be one of the old wives' tales. There is no evidence supporting this claim.

Does masturbating reduce sexual performance or sexual function?

Unless you are trying to have sex immediately after masturbating, masturbation will not make it more challenging to obtain or keep an erection or have an orgasm. 

Masturbation, according to some guys, helps them last longer when having sex with a partner, especially in younger men. Masturbation by itself, on the other hand, has no health hazards. While it is possible to cause injury to yourself through excessive masturbation, this is a rare occurrence.

Masturbation, in fact, maybe beneficial both psychologically and physically. It's one of the most effective methods to learn about our own sexuality. It may help us discover what we like and dislike and how to last longer, making sex with a partner a lot more pleasant. 

People who are confident in their bodies, sex, and masturbation are more likely to avoid sexually transmitted illnesses and unwanted pregnancy.

How to Prevent ED?

A man's lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk factors for erectile problems. Key lifestyle changes include regular exercise, getting enough sleep, a healthy diet, and lowering your stress level. 

If you suspect you are suffering from erectile dysfunction, you can contact your medical provider. You will receive specialized treatment and diagnostics for ED symptoms.

Treatment options for ED

ED is a normal part of life for most men at some point. Often it is a temporary problem that resolves itself in days or weeks. 

However, suppose you have a problem getting an erection for a longer period. In that case, you may want to seek ED treatment in the form of medications, a penis pump, Li-ESWT (Shockwave Therapy), or even surgery is used for ED treatments in extreme cases.

FAQs

Can masturbation cause you to have a higher risk of getting hairy palms?

Your palms have no hair follicles unless you have restricted hairy dysembryoplasia of palms, which is a scarce genetic condition. Despite popular belief, masturbation does not cause hair to grow on your palms. Masturbation has no recognized physical adverse effects.

Can watching porn or masturbating help maintain a more useful appearance?

While this might sound absurd, there are health benefits to masturbation. While porn has few health benefits, there are some aspects of masturbation that can improve health, including:

  • Masturbation may aid with relaxation

  • Encourages better sleep

  • Increases the production of opioid-like neurotransmitters (called endorphins) in the brain

  • Feelings of physical and emotional well-being

  • Alleviates stress

  • Boosts self-esteem and body image

These factors can help improve overall well-being, which can technically lead to slower aging. Still, there are no primary sources or studies to back this up.

Are there health benefits to watching porn?

The vast majority of research suggests watching pornography is bad for you. However, moderate porn watching can relieve stress, help improve relationships, and be entertaining, which are not negative aspects. 

Think of porn like alcohol, there is nothing wrong with an occasional beer, and moderate alcohol consumption has its benefits, but go easy as the negatives outweigh the positives.