Masturbation is a topic that carries many misconceptions with it. One of these is that masturbation has a negative effect on your skin.
Some people believe that masturbating or having sex can lead to acne breakouts, especially in puberty.
But does masturbation really cause acne?
No, masturbation does not cause acne directly, but it does affect your hormones which can (sometimes) lead to acne.
Puberty is also the time of hormonal changes, particularly the increase of the male hormone testosterone and it is usually the onset of acne breakouts as well as first experiences with masturbation.
Does Masturbation Affect Your Hormone Levels?
Testosterone is the hormone most associated with male sexual characteristics and occurs in large amounts in men’s bodies.
It is also present in women’s bodies but in relatively small amounts compared to men. According to research, having an orgasm can lead to a small increase in testosterone in both men and women.
Increases in testosterone levels in both men and women trigger increased sebum production in the skin.
But studies have also found that this temporary influx of testosterone caused by masturbation returns back to normal within minutes.
The increase in sebum production does not cause acne unless there is a build-up of dead skin cells as well as bacteria that traps sebum inside the pore and clog the follicle.
While there is real scientific evidence that masturbation can cause increased testosterone levels it is also deemed so negligible that it can’t be used as a medical reason for acne breakouts.
Shiny skin due to increased sebum production is more likely to be an indicator of indulging in masturbation, but if the oil production goes up for a few hours, the excess sebum is not going to end up being trapped in pores.
The fact that an individual has acne, neither proves nor disproves the suggestion that they indulge in masturbation.
In the rare individuals who masturbate compulsively and forget to attend to basic hygiene, acne may and will probably occur.
Or on the other hand, other research has shown that adrenaline levels spike when we engage in sexual activity with a partner instead of riding solo. The spike of adrenaline levels causes sweating.
Sweat itself will not cause acne breakouts, but if you are negligent enough not to attend to basic hygiene like taking a shower or at least splashing water on your face, this may very well be the cause for a few pimples here and there.
What (Really) Causes Acne?
The increase of testosterone and other androgens can directly trigger the sebaceous glands into producing more sebum.
Sebum is an oily substance that lubricates your skin and protects it from bacteria and external aggressors.
When there is an excess of sebum present, this can cause your pores to become clogged and this can be the main reason for acne breakouts.
So it all comes down to clogged pores. Sometimes the body’s natural way of shedding the dead skin cells from the surface of your skin fails, so part of these become trapped in your pores and cause whiteheads, blackheads, pustules, and even cysts.
Acne can also happen because of bacteria on the surface of our skin. It is incredibly easy for bacteria that live on your phone, pillowcase, towel, makeup brushes etc to penetrate inside your pores which will cause inflammation and redness.
This can be classified as moderate to severe cases of acne.
Where Does The Idea of Masturbation Causing Acne Come From?
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg was an American medical doctor, nutritionist, inventor, health activist, and businessman.
Dr. Kellogg was an early advocate of vegetarianism, enemas, and sexual abstinence and was convinced that this is the key to good health.
He was one of the loudest anti-masturbation voices, thinking it detrimental to physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
He personally abstained from having sex with his wife and insisted on keeping separate bedrooms as well as adopting all of their children.
According to Kellogg “sex with your wife was bad, but masturbation was even worse”.
He also wrote in his book “If illicit commerce of the sexes is a heinous sin, self-pollution is a crime doubly abominable.”
Dr Kellogg was a skilled surgeon who was often offering his services to the public for free, especially circumcisions in a certain way to prevent male masturbation.
In his book Plain Facts for Old and Young: Embracing the Natural History and Hygiene of Organic Life, Dr. Kellogg cataloged different symptoms of a person “plagued” by masturbation.
These included defective development, mood swings, baldness, bad posture, stiff joints, fondness for spicy foods, palpitations, acne breakouts, and epilepsy.
Dr. Kellogg also had a very particular way of circumcision to help prevent erections in boys and brutal ways to discourage girls from touching themselves.
Luckily for us in the 21st century, Kellogg’s crusade and regarding masturbation as a mental illness, as well as rather brutal ways of “treating” people who masturbate would have cost him his medical license and lead to many, many lawsuits.
My name is Simone and I am a certified skin specialist. I created this website to teach my readers how to take great care of their skin and I also like to occasionally share my honest opinions on skincare products I’ve tried. You can learn more about me here.
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