What Is and Isn’t Healthy Masturbation?

“You’ll go blind!” That, and a whole slew of other reasons were given during the nineteenth century to discourage men from masturbating. Most were quite moralizing, and some commonly cited problems included decreased virility and fertility.

Was there any truth to those beliefs? There’s no connection between masturbation and blindness, but the stigma and myths surrounding masturbation largely continue to this day. Women might worry that masturbation means they are no longer virgins. And many people believe, at least to a small degree, that masturbating uses up some of your energy. Michael Ashworth, Ph.D. at PsychCentral.com. writes that in high school, the men’s track team vowed to stop masturbating before an important meet because they thought it would leave them with more strength.

Masturbation is not perverse. Far from it. The medical community considers masturbation a perfectly normal, healthy, and safe sexual activity. In fact, sexual stimulation is thought to be good for the prostate gland and thereby reduces the risk of prostate cancer. It doesn’t matter if the activity is performed solo or with a partner.

Is there such a thing as unhealthy masturbation? How much is too much?

We’ve all heard the saying “too much of a good thing.” Or its cousin, “all things in moderation.” But where should we draw the line between what is and what isn’t healthy masturbation?

There’s no magic number

There’s no way to say if you’re masturbating too frequently based on how often you engage in the activity. Some men and women can masturbate multiple times daily without significant impact. What might be more important to consider is what you masturbate to. When you masturbate to a certain type of pornography or with certain physical gestures, you are teaching your nervous system to respond to those kinds of stimulations, which could have an impact on your ability to achieve satisfaction in other ways.

Read on for more ways to tell if you’ve crossed the line from healthy masturbation into unhealthy:

Masturbation affects my social life

If this sentence sounds like you, you’re most likely engaging in masturbation to an unhealthy extent. Most people masturbate, even those in sexually fulfilling relationships, simply because it feels good. But if your partner is upset that the majority of your sex life is solo, it’s time to reevaluate and perhaps seek professional help. If you feel like it’s a problem, it might be. Do you feel anxious, depressed, or guilty about masturbating? Has it ever made you late to a meeting because you were pleasuring yourself in the office restroom? Have you ever missed out on an event with friends because you stayed home to masturbate?

Some people are compulsive masturbators. That is, they want to stop but can’t. If that seems like your situation, reach out for assistance from a trained professional. This can be a sign of something more serious and far-reaching like Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which could impact other aspects of your life down the road if not addressed.

Masturbation affects me physically

No, you’re not going to go blind or lose your ability to have children (no matter what your sex), but there are some physical consequences to too much masturbation. If your wrist and forearm hurt during and after, it could be a sign of carpal tunnel syndrome. You might also experience unpleasant rug-burn like sensations from masturbating too frequently without sufficient lubrication. Whether you use your hand or a toy, consider using lubricants to avoid friction and irritating your skin.

More serious physical diseases can occur as well. If you use too much pressure when stroking your penis, plaque can build up in the shaft, causing a condition known as Peyronie’s disease.

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1 Comment
  1. Great topic! Thanks for sharing this very helpful information – and for advocating for a more sex positive culture!

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