Many people believe excessive masturbation causes acne, among many other things (e.g. hair loss and erectile dysfunction - off topic for this question).

One such site that claims or supports this is Herballove

His chronic over-masturbation resulted in acne outbreak, hair loss and erectile dysfunction at age 24.

The answer further says in response of having body acne, hair loss and ED:

All of your symptoms can result from sexual exhaustion as a result of your chronic over-masturbation

It is further explained in the answer

Acne is caused by a number of factors, including diet, stress, accumulation of dead skin cells, bacteria in the pores, use of steroids, poor hygiene, drugs and medication. In addition, acne can be caused by over-ejaculation.


Excessive sex and masturbation can increase histamine, the super hormone DHT, the stress neurohormone epinephrine, and the inflammatory hormone prostaglandin E2 to induce acne outbreak.

This is just one of the site, there are many out there. Is this true?

  • Welcome to Skeptics! We want to focus our attention on doubtful claims that are widely held or are made by notable people. You've provided a reference to a to Please provide some references to places where this claim is being made. A claim from 1888, and two claims from a Poe's Law site, like Christwire aren't really good enough.
    – Oddthinking
    Apr 10, 2012 at 6:49
  • @Oddthinking, while I agree that this question could use a little editing work, there is absolutely no reason to close it. A quick search shows that there are people out there who believe this.
    – Sam I Am
    Apr 10, 2012 at 14:44
  • @SamIAm - I suspect there is more to this closing than was cited. Like, perhaps the questioner is already suspended on his other account.
    – Chad
    Apr 10, 2012 at 18:23
  • 1
    No this is a false claim by 7th day adventists (such as Mr. Kellogg), who have a ridiculous antiscientific agenda against masturbation. There are plenty of studies ridiculing this (but I can't access them at the moment): do see here!
    – Sklivvz
    Apr 12, 2012 at 20:08
  • 10
    I thought that acne cause masturbation? :)
    – Ana
    Apr 13, 2012 at 19:28

1 Answer 1


No. No amount of masturbation ("excessive" or otherwise) causes acne.

Self-help forum and product retailer, Acne.org explain on their Acne Myth page:

This antiquated notion, originating as early as the 17th century to dissuade young people from having premarital sex, is not based on scientific evidence.

Masturbation and Acne

Is there a correlation between acne and masturbation? I do not answer this in this answer, but I do argue any correlation is weak, and I look at other ways acne and masturbation might be correlated, and yet still not be causally related.

For this discussion, "acne" is regarded as a full-blown severe case covering substantial areas of skin, and not the occasional lonely zit.

Correlation, if any, is weak

The number of people with acne is much lower than the number of people who masturbate.

From the Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

Masturbation is very common. Studies show that about 7 out of 10 adult men and more than 5 out of 10 adult women masturbate. It’s also common for children and teens to masturbate.

From Acne.org:

Adult acne affects 25% of all adult men and 50% of adult women at some time in their adult lives

So, looking at the male population, 70% of male masturbate only 25% have acne. (The numbers for women are closer.)

If there is a correlation between masturbation and correlation it can't be a strong one. Masturbation doesn't automatically lead to acne.


Hormones may cause acne.

Acne.org argues on their Acne Myth page that any correlation may be caused by androgens:

A more plausible explanation may be that higher levels of androgens (male sex hormones) can cause increased sex drive. We also know that high levels of androgens can be related to more severe cases of acne. So it may be the higher androgen levels and not the associated increase in desire for sexual activity that is related to acne.

Testosterone is an androgren that is related to acne and sex-drive and hence might be related to masturbation.

The relation of testosterone and acne:

Most dermatologists believe acne is closely linked with hormonal changes that occur within the body. In fact, testosterone has been identified as a chief trigger of acne development. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, testosterone works to stimulate oil gland activity, creating an oilier skin more prone to acne breakouts.

Sources for this have also been:

Masturbation and Other Effects

A separate concept is what constitutes "excessive" masturbation. From Planned Parenthood Federation of America's Myth and Facts about Masturbation page largely dismissed the idea:

The myth is that too much masturbation will make you blind, crazy, or stupid, damage your sex organs, or stunt your growth. Some people masturbate every day — or even more than once a day. That's fine. So is there such a thing as "too much" masturbation? According to the experts (the American Psychiatric Association), it's only when masturbation gets in the way of daily activities — like going to school or work, or meeting friends — that it would be considered "too much." And not many people have that problem.

Also, some people worry that masturbating frequently will affect a girl's ability to get pregnant or a guy's ability to produce sperm. It doesn't.

Some people masturbate daily or more than once a day, some people masturbate once in a while, and some people never masturbate

However, I think that it's worth noting that they may be some negative side-effects to masturbation:

If a couple is trying to get pregnant the man should hold off from masturbation on the days before the woman's ovulation and only have sex (once a day or every other day) as it reduces the sperm count and will reduce the chance of successful fertilization, see here and here.

You can read more about the negative effects of masturbation here

  • 2
    > so that people who are more prone to acne, are also more inclined to masturbate more often and have more sex (the irony of nature, the people who want sex more, get acne which prevents it) So true! Apr 12, 2012 at 4:16
  • 2
    Having active sexual life or not doesn't affect hormonal status: I would remove this sentence. For instance, orgasm produces a prolactin increase both in men and women and I am pretty sure that other hormones also change during long periods of abstinence. Other than that I agree with you: +1.
    – nico
    Apr 12, 2012 at 7:06
  • 5
    All of the claims here lack specific, scientific references and some of them are patently false. The overall conclusion is (most probably!) true but this answer in its current form is inacceptable. Apr 12, 2012 at 10:49
  • 7
    @Ilya Two things: personal contacts are not a valid reference here since they cannot be easily checked. Regarding the claims about hormones in particular, these need to be referenced. For instance, you claim that masturbation releases (only) oxytocin, only has a short-term effect on hormonal balance, and that short-term hormonal variations have no influence on acne. All three claims must be corroborated. And finally, the following is simply false, as far as I know: “Your reproductive system functions the same way weather you have sexual activity or not”. Apr 12, 2012 at 15:48
  • 6
    I don't care if you personally talked to 100 doctors, that doesn't mean anything, especially not for Skeptics.SE's answer's standards. I've had doctors tell me things that was in conflict with current research. I agree 100% with @Konrad. Point a is just a false argument, point c is complete speculation, among other problems. This sentence "psychological... affects of masturbation... is reversible if you hold off for few days" Huh, what does that mean? Also, needs citation. Are you telling me if I don't masturbate for a few days I will no longer feel shame about masturbation?
    – Sam I Am
    Apr 12, 2012 at 17:49

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