MASTURBATION AND SOLO SEX

Does Masturbation Affect Your Kidneys?

Published: AUGUST 22, 2023
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Reviewed by Dr. Sunny Rodgers
on August 15, 2023
Masturbation can sometimes cause or coincide with pain that causes people to worry about their kidneys. In most cases, there's nothing to fear.

As a person with chronic bladder issues and Interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome, I've often wondered whether or not my solo sessions have been causing more harm than good.

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Turns out, I'm not alone. Thousands of people Google phrases like "masturbation effects on kidney" and "can masturbation cause back pain" each month, looking for answers and reassurance. So, for my own peace of mind (and yours), I decided to research and reach out to the experts to get accurate info on the topic.

This article covers everything you've ever wanted to know about masturbation and its potential impact on your kidneys, including whether or not you can get a urinary tract infection (UTI) from masturbating.

Can masturbation affect the kidneys?

While there's limited research on the connection between masturbation and kidney health, Justin Houman, MD, Senior Medical Advisor at Hello Cake and board-certified urologist and fellowship-trained men’s sexual and reproductive health specialist, says that there's no evidence that masturbation directly affects the kidneys.

"The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste products and excess fluids from the blood to produce urine," explains Houman. "Masturbation is a normal sexual activity that does not impact the function or health of the kidneys."

That said, there are some painful (but rather rare) things that can happen during masturbation that are related to your kidneys. One is the ejaculation of a kidney stone.

Ejaculating Kidney Stones

If you've ever had a kidney stone, you know how painful it can be to pass one. Kidney stones are hard mineral deposits that form in the kidneys. They can be caused by dehydration, obesity, and eating too much salt or sugar, among other things. The pain is often described as a sharp, stabbing pain in the back or side. It can also come with nausea, vomiting and hematuria (blood in the urine). However, some evidence suggests that masturbation may help with the process of passing a kidney stone. (The body is a weird and wonderful thing!)

In a 2021 randomized controlled trial, researchers discovered both masturbation and tamsulosin (a medication prescribed for treating an enlarged prostate) were effective in assisting participants with passing distal ureteral stones ranging from five to 10 mm in size. The trial revealed that masturbating at least three to four times per week was equally effective as tamsulosin in promoting the spontaneous expulsion of kidney stones in individuals assigned male at birth (AMAB).

Another study by the same researchers, just one month before the 2021 randomized trial mentioned above, found that individuals assigned female at birth (AFAB) who engaged in sexual intercourse three to four times per week also experienced an increased likelihood of the spontaneous passage of distal or intramural ureteral stones.

A third review, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, suggests that the contraction and subsequent relaxation of the bladder neck during orgasm and ejaculation could also facilitate the passage of stones.

Even so, Houman says passing a kidney stone while ejaculating is rare and could cause discomfort and potentially worsen the pain associated with passing a kidney stone.

"Kidney stones are formed in the kidneys and can travel down the urinary tract, causing pain and potential blockages," Houman says. "Ejaculation involves the release of semen from the reproductive system, and the presence of a kidney stone in the urinary tract during ejaculation may lead to pain."

Can you get a UTI from masturbating?

Another cause of pain in the urogenital system is a urinary tract infection (UTI). Masturbation isn't a direct cause of UTIs, but certain factors could increase your risk of developing an infection.

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"UTIs are primarily caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract," says Houman, "Certain sexual activities, including masturbation, can potentially introduce bacteria into the urinary tract and increase the risk of UTIs."

According to Elizabeth Kavaler, MD, and Medical Director and Managing Partner at Total Urology Care of NY, AFAB individuals may have a higher chance of contracting a UTI if they have a history of recurrent infections or use sex toys or other objects for vaginal penetration. However, the chances of this happening are generally low if proper hygiene practices are followed.

"It's similar to the risk of getting a UTI with intercourse," says Kavaler.

Other factors that can increase a person's risk of getting a UTI include:

  • pregnancy
  • changes in the vaginal flora (e.g., menopause or the use of spermicides)
  • age
  • an enlarged prostate
  • poor hygiene
  • having unprotected sex
  • having multiple sexual partners

Houman recommends maintaining good hygiene practices and urinating after sexual activities to help flush out potential bacteria and reduce the risk of UTIs.

Read: Should You Pee After Masturbating?

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Causes of Pain Following Masturbation

Post-masturbation pain could be attributed to a UTI, kidney stone or other problem, but can have various causes unrelated to the kidneys, including:

  • Muscle strain: If you're really getting into it and end up in a funky body position that strains your muscles, you might feel a little sore after your session.
  • Friction and irritation: Kudos for showing yourself some love, but going overboard may lead to skin irritation.
  • Prostatitis: Pain during or after ejaculation is a common symptom of prostatitis (prostate gland inflammation). (Prostate massage can actually help with this condition. Read How to Massage Your Prostate Using a Sex Toy.)
  • Inadequate lubrication: A lack of lube or using the wrong lube can cause friction-related discomfort, especially for individuals AFAB.
  • Sensitivity issues: If things are feeling extra sensitive down there, it might be a good call to hold off on self-love until you've called your doctor.

“In rare cases, certain underlying medical conditions could also contribute to discomfort after sexual activities,” says Houman. “If someone experiences persistent or severe pain during or after masturbation, it's crucial to see a urologist.”

The Bottom Line

Masturbating has nothing to do with your kidneys; in some cases, it may even help you dispel a kidney stone. If anything feels off, visit your doctor.

As Houman puts it, "Masturbation is a normal sexual activity that does not impact the function or health of the kidneys." So, don't hold back – give yourself some love!

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Photo for Tabitha Britt
Tabitha Britt

Tabitha Britt is the founding editor-in-chief of DO YOU ENDO, a digital magazine for individuals with endometriosis by individuals with endometriosis.

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