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A relatively common question many women have is does masturbation cause PCOS. I decided to explore the topic and answer based on what we currently know from clinical research.
What is PCOS?
Before specifically discussing the question “does masturbation cause PCOS,” what exactly is the condition, and how does it affect reproductive health and the menstrual cycle.
PCOS stands for polycystic ovary syndrome. The hormonal disorder is relatively common among women who are reproductive age. Women with PCOS can have various symptoms, including prolonged or infrequent periods, excess male hormone levels, known as high androgen levels, and the ovaries may develop follicles. Follicles are small fluid collections that can prevent the regular release of eggs.
Researchers and doctors don’t know exactly the causes of PCOS. They have some ideas about factors that could play a role.
For example, heredity may be part of it. Excess insulin can also lead to symptoms of PCOS because it increases androgen production. Low-grade inflammation can be a factor in the development of PCOS too.
Complications of PCOS can include:
- Gestational diabetes
- High blood pressure during pregnancy
- Premature birth or miscarriage
- Nonalcohol steatohepatitis is severe liver inflammation from fat accumulation occurring in the liver
- Metabolic syndrome is a set of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol levels
- Prediabetes or type 2 diabetes
- Depression or anxiety
- Eating disorders
- Uterine bleeding
- Endometrial cancer
Obesity is linked with PCOS and can make the symptoms and complications worse.
How Does PCOS Affect Your Sex Life?
There are a lot of direct and indirect ways having PCOS can affect you sexually, including:
- Your period is irregular, so you may have no idea when it will show, which can affect when you’re willing to have sex and your libido levels.
- Around 60% of women with PCOS say they have some form of sexual dysfunction, based on a study published in the Iranian Journal of Reproductive Medicine. Almost every woman in the group said they had problems with arousal and desire. Some of these effects may stem from body issues that come from PCOS. Taking birth control pills to make your periods more regular can also affect your desire for sexual experiences.
- PCOS can lead to symptoms like unwanted hirsutism hair on the face, chest, and back. You might, at the same time, lose the hair on your head. Weight gain and acne can also occur, affecting your confidence and self-esteem. When you aren’t feeling your best, you might not want sex.
- PCOS can make getting pregnant more difficult, and that can cause you to feel stress about whether or not you’ll be able to. Then, sex can become a chore.
Does Masturbation Cause PCOS?
There is a myth that masturbating can somehow affect your fertility. That may be why people have the question does masturbation cause PCOS. Women have questions about masturbation relating to female fertility in general, even outside of having PCOS.
No matter your age, gender, or anything else, masturbation doesn’t affect fertility.
Masturbation can cause your body to release certain hormones in healthy amounts.
For example, when you masturbate, your body will release dopamine, a feel-good hormone. You might also release endorphins, which are mood boosters that can relieve pain, and oxytocin is another happy hormone that’s released.
Prolactin release can occur, which can help your mood and immune system.
Masturbation can also temporarily increase testosterone levels, and that’s likely the big reason some people wonder if it can cause PCOS. The reality is the levels of testosterone released are not consequential enough for it to cause PCOS or contribute to your symptoms in any way.
Masturbation in no way can affect your hormones to a level where it will harm a pregnancy or fertility, and your hormones increase only temporarily. Masturbation doesn’t have a permanent impact on hormone levels.
Also worth noting is that ovulation doesn’t require an orgasm to occur. If you have a uterus and egg cells, an orgasm doesn’t cause the cells to be ejected from your body, so it’s a different process than ejaculation.
It is possible, at least based on anecdotal evidence, that masturbating could trigger your menstrual bleeding to begin, but this would only be likely if it were very close to the due date of your period anyway. Researchers aren’t sure why this could be the case because it hasn’t been studied in-depth.
Since masturbation can release endorphins which are natural pain relievers, it could reduce some of the cramping and physical tension you might feel during your period. Pain relief can always be welcome during that time.
Final Thoughts—Does Masturbation Cause PCOS?
So, to sum up, does masturbation cause PCOS?
Masturbation doesn’t affect or cause PCOS. Female masturbation can temporarily release certain hormones, but this will only last short. Masturbation in females also doesn’t affect pregnancy or fertility or long-term levels of androgens. There are no links between masturbating and the chances of conception. These are all just myths about masturbation.
There may be some health benefits to masturbation, and it could also help your sexual desire with your partner if you’re experiencing diminished libido due to PCOS.