frequent masturbation and sperm count
August 24, 2009 3:40 PM   Subscribe

Male fertility question -- does excessive masturbation reduce sperm count?

I've googled this but I don't think the resources I've found answer my question. In general masturbation does not lower sperm count and in fact clears out sperm with low motility, but, for example, what if before the ejaculation in question (as a result of intercourse) the man has been masturbating at a frequency of 2-3x per day for the past week (including the day in question)? Will this have an effect on sperm count?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)

Yes, having ejaculated in the last 24 hours reduces sperm count.
posted by idiopath at 3:55 PM on August 24, 2009

sez a clinically depressed Peter Gabriel fan who studied 'animals' and 'countless books'. I would certainly go for a second opinion there, ano.
posted by ouke at 4:15 PM on August 24, 2009

Recently checked the literature on this. I can't find the relevant paper right now, but the basic answer was yes it does, but not below the limit that is typically considered "low sperm count" for the purposes of fertility treatment.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:29 PM on August 24, 2009

Prior to a fertility test, I was told not to ejaculate for three days before the test because of this very reason. So although IANAD or YD ... I was told it will effect sperm count.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 4:34 PM on August 24, 2009

Sperm count is not the only factor to consider. There is also the issue of motility. Old sperm don't swim as good as fresh ones.
posted by mds35 at 4:45 PM on August 24, 2009

My understanding (IANAFD, IANYFD) is that regular ejaculation is necessary to increase mobility and keep sperm counts up generally, but in the short term (ie a couple of days) your number will be lower if you ejaculate than if you do not.

I suppose you could visualize this as a water jug with a hose trickling into it; if you don't keep emptying the jug regularly, the water inside will get stale and someone's going to turn the hose off sooner or later, but if you've just poured water out of the jug yesterday there's not going to be quite as much fresh water as if you didn't.

I realize that visualization is somewhat superfluous, but there it is nonetheless.
posted by davejay at 6:02 PM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is clearly disputed. But some interesting data: if you are away from your partner, there's some evidence that sperm counts rise. This is believed to be due to sperm competition: if you are away, she might have been with someone else, therefore, you need more sperm to block the other guy. I don't know if making yourself insanely jealous would have the same effect.

However, this article suggests that masturbating to pix of a threesome with two guys increases sperm count more than seeing multiple women. Dunno if gangbangs would work even better-- ick!

Anyway, point being that it's probably not masturbation per se that influences counts-- it's more likely to be due to what you think your partner might be up to.
posted by Maias at 6:31 PM on August 24, 2009

davejay has it - Mary Roach's Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex:
Sex physiologist Roy Levin explained to me that sperm which sit around the factory a week or more start to develop abnormalities: missing heads, extra heads, shriveled heads, tapered and bent heads. All of which render them less effective at head-banging their way into an egg. [...]
Though if conception is the goal, you don't want the sperm to be too fresh. Daily masturbation would deplete the number of sperm per ejaculate. Got to give the pinheads time to build up their ranks. To produce an ejaculate with optimum potential for fertilization, Levin recommends a holding time of five days.

posted by djb at 6:38 PM on August 24, 2009

sez a clinically depressed Peter Gabriel fan who studied 'animals' and 'countless books'. I would certainly go for a second opinion there, ano.

You did see the part where she cited her sources, right, ouke?
posted by DWRoelands at 6:37 AM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

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