Sexual Health

Masturbation

Written by
Dr. K Sneha
and medically reviewed by Dr. Seikhoo Bishnoi

10 Oct 2019  -  7 min read

Abstract

Abstract

There is a myth that masturbation results in many sexual and physical side effects. This article answers all the doubts and fears you might have about masturbation.

Masturbation

Masturbation Overview

Masturbation is the sexual self-stimulation of the genitals for sexual arousal and pleasure to the point of a sexual climax (orgasm). It is a method of self gratification. It is usually achieved by touching or massaging the penis or the clitoris until you orgasm. It is a very common behavior among men and women. In a national study, 95 % of males and 89 % of females reported that they have masturbated at some point in their life. Some people do it ones or twice a day or less frequently or never masturbate, which is all normal.

Some people feel embarrassed to admit to masturbating, as there are a lot of myths associated with masturbation. It is generally considered to be a shameful and dirty act, and a lot of stigma is associated with it. Many think that people who are single or not sexually active are the ones who masturbate, but this is not entirely true. It is a personal choice, and you should do it only if you want to. A lot of engaged and married individuals too masturbate, and this is totally normal. In a number of cases, even partners understand and accept it. Sexologist and researchers believe that masturbating is a normal process of the body, and it is a healthy sexual behavior. Here, we have addressed some of the most

Frequently Asked Questions about Masturbation

Why Do People Masturbate?

Individuals masturbate because it is a totally safe method, as there is no risk of STD, no risk of pregnancy, and this results in sexual gratification. Masturbation results in stimulation of pleasure center in the brain, which results in release of dopamine and also indirectly endorphins, and this in turn, results in relaxation. Some of the other reasons are as follows:

  1. Because it feels good.

  2. Helps in relieving sexual tension.

  3. People without sexual partners.

  4. Way to avoid pregnancy.

  5. Enhances the quality of sleep.

  6. Concentration booster.

  7. Makes people understand their needs.

  8. No danger of sexually transmitted diseases (STD).

  9. During sperm donation or infertility testing.

  10. Sometimes it is prescribed by a sex therapist for sexual dysfunction.

  11. Endorphins are a feel-good chemical in your brain, which is released during orgasm and is a natural painkiller.

Is It Normal to Masturbate?

Masturbation was once considered perversion and a sign of some mental illness. But nowadays, it is considered a normal and healthy sexual activity. It is a safe, acceptable, pleasant, and fulfilling act. It is only considered not healthy if it hinders with the person’s work or school, inhibits sexual activity with the partner, done in public, and if it causes significant guilt to the person. Doing it compulsively might interfere with the day to day activities.

Can Masturbation Be Harmful?

If done in moderation, it is considered to be natural and harmless for both men and women. It usually does not cause any injury if done correctly and can be done throughout a person’s life. But, some religions consider masturbating as a sin, which can lead to guilt or shame about the behavior. A few sex therapists consider it to improve sexual health and relationship. It helps a woman to determine what is erotically pleasing, and in men, it can help them learn techniques to last longer during sexual intercourse.

How Many Times Can I Masturbate?

There is no hard and fast rule saying that this is the number of times a person should masturbate daily. It is a personal choice, for both men and women. Some people do it daily or twice every day. While others find it to be excessive if done daily. You can do it as often as you want, but it should not interfere with your work, hanging out with your friends, spending time with your partner, and other routine activities.

How much Masturbation is too much?

If masturbation is resulting in impairment in social, occupational or academic functioning, then that is abnormal. If masturbation does not result in much loss of time, then it is normal. You should reduce the frequency if you notice the following signs:

  1. If it is the reason for distress.

  2. If you use it to escape from stress or realities of life.

  3. If you prefer masturbating over sexual intercourse with your partner. As a reason, you have stopped getting intimate with your partner.

  4. If you injure yourself by vigorous rubbing.

  5. If you constantly feel lustful and get an urge to please yourself.

  6. If your genitals become red and painful.

Can Masturbation Cause Sexual Dysfunction in Men?

It is a common belief that masturbation causes erectile dysfunction in men, but there is no research suggesting it. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when a man cannot get or maintain his erection long enough to have penetrative sex. It is more of a psychological problem than anything else. Some studies show that watching pornographic videos can desensitize you to physical intimacy. But, masturbation as such is not related to ED.

Does Masturbation Affect the Sperm Count?

No, it does not affect the sperm count because men produce sperm continuously. It is normal that after a man has ejaculated ones, it takes some time for him to do it again. It is the normal physiology of the body and has nothing to do with masturbation.

Can Masturbation Replace Having Sex with Their Partner?

When people get into a relationship, some think that it is wrong to continue masturbating as it is no longer required. But this is not entirely true, as the experience the person has with masturbation and sex is both different. During sex, both partners have to make sacrifices to make their partner happy and have to think about pleasing each other continually. But during masturbation, as there is nobody to please except you, it makes the experience enjoyable.

So, it is entirely reasonable if you and your partner masturbate while being sexually intimate. It does not mean that your partner is not interested in you or that you do not satisfy him or her sexually, but it is just a personal choice. But, if you prefer masturbation over being sexually intimate with your partner, then consult a sex therapist.

Is It Bad for a Woman to Masturbate?

In most culture, women are expected to hide their sexual desires because experiencing pleasure is tagged as a shameful and guilty act. Most women are not aware of what they like and dislike sexually. Masturbation can help a woman understand her body better, and can be done without feeling guilty. Research has shown that enhanced stimulation can help increase sexual desire and sensitivity. It will make her aware of the things that she finds pleasurable, which she can share with her partner, thus enhancing the sexual experience. It also aids in stress release, stabilizes your mood, and makes you happier and healthier.

Is Masturbation During Pregnancy Safe?

During pregnancy, hormone changes make the pregnant woman feel heightened sexual desire. Masturbation can help release the tension and ease back pain. During and after orgasm, you might feel mild and irregular cramping and Braxton-Hicks contractions. These contractions usually fade away, but if they do not, get medical attention immediately. Masturbation might not be safe during high-risk pregnancies, as it increases the chances of labor.

Myths About Masturbation:

There are a lot of myths surrounding masturbation, even though many of them have debunked. Most people claim that there are not many scientific evidence to show that masturbation does not cause any adverse effects. Some of the most common myths are that masturbation may cause:

  1. Blindness.

  2. Infertility.

  3. Hairy palms.

  4. Erectile dysfunction.

  5. Premature ejaculation.

  6. The penis to shrink.

  7. Damage to the genitals.

  8. Results in low sperm count.

  9. Mental illness.

Side Effects of Masturbation:

As too much of anything is not good, same goes for masturbation. Chronic masturbation might cause some of the following issues:

  • Guilt - Because of various cultural, spiritual, and religious beliefs, some people start feeling guilty. Masturbation is neither wrong nor shameful, but such beliefs are still prevalent in society. If you feel guilty, talk to someone you trust or seek help from a sex therapist.

  • Addiction - Spending too much time masturbating might cause addiction. Signs of addiction are skipping daily chores, canceling plans with friends and family, and having a constant urge to please yourself. It may interfere with your romantic relationships and friendships. If you feel that you are addicted, then consult a sex therapist at the earliest. Every time you have an urge to masturbate, try going for a run, walking, talking to friends, or writing something.

  • Decreased sexual sensitivity - Aggressive masturbation methods in men can decrease sexual sensation. Holding the penis too tight is the cause. A sex therapist will recommend a change in technique to restore sensitivity.

  • Interfering with daily life - If you masturbate more than you desire, it might interfere with the day to day activities, which in turn will cause distress and mental instability.

  • Sexually transmitted infections (STI) - You might get infected if you use sex toys, previously used by an infected person, during masturbation. So, always wash your sex toys if you share them or put a new condom on them every time.

Preventive Measures to Avoid Masturbation Addiction:

A positive and healthier approach can help overcome your urges. If can also gradually lower the masturbation addiction and help you lead a better life. You can try the following measures:

  1. No matter the temptation, avoid watching pornography.

  2. As you get the urge when you are alone, try to be in company with others as much as possible.

  3. Try to engage in some hobby, as it will keep your attention diverted.

  4. Spending more time in outdoor activities will help in reducing the frequency, if masturbation is in excess or resulting in guilt.

Masturbation is a natural, healthy, and safe act, which improves your general health. There is a possibility of addiction, but doing it in moderation has no harmful effects. If you feel guilty and are ashamed of doing it, it is better you consult a sex therapist. A sex therapist will help you with the feeling of guilt and shame and improve the quality of your sexual life. They also help you understand your sexuality and help you maintain a healthy and enjoyable sex life at any age.

Last reviewed at:
10 Oct 2019  -  7 min read

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