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Does masturbation reduce sperm count?

8 fertility expert(s) answered this question

Answer from: Saghar Kasiri, Clinical Embryologist

Embryologist, Director of European Operations Cryos International

As recommended by WHO, a normal count, the range starts from around 15 million so, if we have less than that, in the ml of a sperm, then of course, we would then count it as low count sperm. Low counter sperm, again, depending on how low it is, is it 1 million, 2 million or we are close to 10, 12 million – it can be treated if we know what the root cause is, we can treat the root cause and help to improve the sperm quality. If we can get the sperm to go within the normal range of 15 million per ml plus, then it means that hopefully other parameters would be normal and hopefully a pregnancy can be achieved naturally.

Answer from: Alexia Chatziparasidou,  MSc, PMI-RMP

Embryologist, Consultant Clinical Embryologist, Director of Embryolab Academy, Co-Founder of Embryolab Fertility Clinic Embryolab Fertility Clinic

Yes, the frequency of masturbation may have an impact on the sperm counts and sperm volume. When we have very short periods of abstinence such as a day or less, we may have lower sperm counts and lower volume of the sperm sample. However, prolonged abstinence may have a negative impact on the quality and overall characteristics of the sperm as we may have higher sperm counts but the quality of the spermatozoa in terms of motility and DNA fragmentation are severely reduced. So, what we would recommend to patients, to the couples that are aiming for a natural conception, is to try to have an intercourse and ejaculation every second day. That’s a good way to keep both the sperm count and the quality of the sperm in good shape and level.

Answer from: Kevin McEleny, BSc(Hons), BM, FRCS(Eng), FRCS (Ed), FRCS(Urol), PhD

Urologist, Male fertility specialist, Urologist at Newcastle Fertility Centre

Doesn’t really reduce sperm quality. For the testing purposes, we advise people to avoid ejaculating for a couple of days beforehand. This is because if you do that, you will have perhaps a slightly higher concentration possibly but what we find is if the man abstains for too long, the motility is affected, Motility is an important part of the sperm quality so, there’s getting that balance right. If you were to masturbate continuously, then I guess, it would affect concentration because sperm needs to be produced again but it’s being made all the time – even as you sit and eat your tea, watch tv -sperm’s being made so, it can all come back.

Answer from: Eugenia Rocafort, BSc, MSc

Embryologist, Senior Embryologist ESHRE and ASEBIR certified Quironsalud Hospital Barcelona

Masturbation can affect the count number. However we must take into account that sometimes it’s better quality than quantity. Recently some publications are showing that higher frequency rate in masturbation results in lower fragmentation and better motility rates. We should assess and balance which days of withdrawal are best in your case.

Answer from: Apostolos Georgiannakis, M.Sc., Ph.D

Andrologist, Sperm Quality Specialist

Frequent masturbation of course can bring the sperm numbers down in the ejaculates. If men ejaculates two or three times a day, for example, then obviously in each ejaculate if we had to examine those samples in the lab, we would find decreasing amounts of sperm obviously.
From a clinical perspective when we ask questions, we ask patients to maintain their frequent ejaculations because that keeps the environment, when I say environment I mean: the seminal plasma so the chemical environment where the sperm lives in the ejaculate is healthier and also it is very important to keep the days consistent so we have seen in the lab that the optimal days of the man to not ejaculate is to have an abstinence period, as we call it, approximately three days. Obviously if we’re having a patient who ejaculates every day in that case we would find probably less semen volume and also lower numbers of sperm from a patient who would ejaculate every three days for example.
Let’s not forget though, we should also assess the data of the patient as well. Each man is different so organisms are different but overall from what we’ve seen in the labs today the abstinence period obviously can have an effect on the numbers of sperm.

Answer from: Michael Carroll, BSc, PhD, PgCAP, CBiol, FRSB, FIBMS, FHEA, FLS, ANSHCS

Embryologist, Reader (Associate Professor) in Reproductive Science at Manchester Metropolitan University

Sperm, when it’s produced into testes, is stored in another part of their testis – is called epididymis and it can stay there for months or weeks depending on when it comes out and during the ejaculet. So, regular masturbation can cleanse the epididymis removing the older sperm that would have been there produced during the weeks or days or months beforehand. So, regular masturbation doesn’t impact that much on sperm quality. In fact, it can improve sperm quality to some extent but too much masturbation of course can reduce the sperm count so, if there’s lots of masturbation or more frequent masturbation and you’re trying to get pregnant, the number of sperm produced in your ejaculet may be decreased because of the lost sperm jump masturbation. So can masturbation affect fertility potential? If you don’t masturbate and this sperm is residing in the epididymis for a long time that can impact sperm quality potentially. If you masturbate too much you can reduce the quality of the number of sperm available for a fertilization cycle or for normal pregnancy. So, yes. Again, it’s about balancing masturbation but don’t masturbate too much.


Answer from: Renata Finelli

Embryologist, Junior Embryologist at CREATE Fertility

Masturbation can impact the sperm count in the sense that sexual abstinence can impact sperm count. For example if you have a long period of abstinence, your semen sample may show higher volume and sperm count, but at the same time there is an increase in oxidative stress and sperm DNA fragmentation as well as the worsening of sperm motility and normal morphology rate. On the other hand if the abstinence is too short, sperm count may be lower but at the same time a shorter abstinence has been associated with increased pregnancy rates after assisted reproduction. Therefore it depends, it is important to consider sexual abstinence when similar analysis is conducted. Over all the World Health Organisation recommends a sexual abstinence between 2 and 7 days in order to perform an optimal semen analysis.

Answer from: Krinos Trokoudes, MD

Gynaecologist, Medical Director Pedieos IVF Center

I can answer this question if I refer the meaning of this question to the frequency of ejaculation. The frequency of ejaculation does decrease sperm parameters. And that’s why when we do sperm analysis on patients, we request that they have 3 to 5 days abstinence before they ejaculate for the sperm analysis to be done. If we don’t establish this parameter; the 3 to 5 days of abstinence, then we really cannot compare the sperm objectively. The frequency of ejaculation will decrease this sperm parameter. But on the other hand, sexual activity does increase testosterone. So this means that there has to be a physiological frequency of ejaculation. In the long term, testosterone – the male hormone, is not affected by masturbation. In the short term, it may be affected but is not important.

About this question:

Can masturbation affect your fertility potential?

Can masturbation have some kind of effect on your fertility? Should you do it when you are trying to conceive or when you are undergoing IVF with your partner?

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