Masturbation — How Does It Affect Your Health?

What Is Masturbation?

Masturbation is a common activity that involves touching the genitals or other sensitive areas of the body for sexual stimulation or pleasure.

Masturbation is a natural and safe way to explore your body, feel pleasure, and release built-up sexual tension. It happens among people of all backgrounds, genders and castes.

In fact, one study in older adults estimated that 27 to 40 percent of women and 41 to 65 percent of men reported masturbating in the past month.

Despite the myths, there are actually no physically harmful side effects of masturbation.

Sometimes, excessive or compulsive masturbation can be considered harmful or lead to other mental health concerns. Generally speaking, masturbation is a fun, natural and healthy act.


Benefits Of Masturbation

Masturbation is a healthy sexual act. It can benefit your physical and mental health.

There are limited studies on the benefits of masturbation, but there are studies on orgasm and arousal.

Research and anecdotal reports suggest that sexual stimulation, including stimulation through masturbation, can help you:

  • relieve built-up stress
  • sleep better
  • boost mood
  • preventTrusted Source
 anxiety and depression
  • relax
  • feel pleasure and enjoyment
  • relieve cramps
  • release sexual tension
  • improve self-esteem
  • have better sex
  • better understand your wants and needs

Couples may also masturbate mutually to explore different desires as well as avoid pregnancy. Self-soothing, when compared with partner sex, also helps you prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Masturbation And Prostate Cancer

Some research suggests that regular ejaculation may reduce the risk of prostate cancer, although doctors aren't exactly sure why.

18 years of follow-up found that a lower risk of prostate cancer was associated with a higher frequency of ejaculation. A survey of current literature from 2016 noted that 40% of studies analyzed reported a similar link between frequent ejaculation and lower prostate cancer risk. There’s no evidence, though, that ejaculating regularly protects against advanced prostate cancer, so more research is needed.


Masturbation During Pregnancy

Some pregnant people feel an increase in sexual desire due to changes in hormones during pregnancy. Masturbation is a safe way to relieve sexual tension during pregnancy.

Self-pleasure can also helps to ease pregnancy symptoms, such as lower back pain. You may feel mild, irregular cramps, or Braxton-Hicks contractions during and after intercourse.

They should disappear. If the contractions do not go away and become more painful and frequent, contact a doctor immediately.

Some people with high-risk pregnancies are sometimes advised to avoid sexual activity, as orgasm can potentially increase the risk of early labor. However, research is conflicting.


Side Effects Of Masturbation

Masturbation does not have harmful side effects. However, some people may feel guilty for masturbating or have a problem with chronic masturbation.

Masturbation And Guilt

Some people may feel guilty about masturbating because of cultural, spiritual, or religious beliefs.

Masturbation is neither wrong nor immoral, but you may still hear messages that self-pleasure is “dirty” and “shameful.”

Some people may feel guilty for masturbating because of cultural, spiritual or religious beliefs.

Masturbation is neither wrong nor immoral, but you can still hear the message that self-pleasure is "dirty" and "shameful."

If you feel guilty for masturbating, you can talk to someone you trust about why you feel that way and how you can overcome your feelings of guilt if you want to.

A therapist specializing in sexual health can be a good resource to help you overcome feelings of shame or guilt associated with masturbation.

Addiction To Masturbation

Some people can addicted to masturbation, or what some call "sex addiction". However, the term is not recognized in the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (DSM-5) and is not considered a true addiction by some.

You may be spending too much time masturbating if masturbation causes you to:

  • skip chores or daily activities
  • miss work or school
  • cancel plans with friends or family
  • miss important social events


Masturbation can be considered excessive if it damages your relationships and other parts of your life or if it interferes with your work or studies.

It can also damage your romantic relationships and friendships because you don't spend as much time with your loved ones as you used to or you don't pay attention to their needs.

If you're concerned that you're masturbating too much, consider talking to a doctor or counselor about ways to reduce it.

If you want to masturbate less, consider talk therapy. You can also try to cut back by replacing masturbation with other activities. The next time you have the urge to masturbate, you can try:

  • going for a run
  • writing in a journal
  • spending time with friends
  • going for a walk

Myths About Masturbation

There are many common myths about masturbation that have not been proven by scientific research.

For example, masturbation does not cause:

  • infertility
  • dehydration
  • hormonal imbalances
  • changes in the size or shape of the penis
  • decreased sperm count
  • vision loss
  • acne
  • hairy palms
  • erectile dysfunction
  • low libido

Some of the peoples also believe that masturbation can negatively affect romantic relationships or may indicate that one partner is experiencing sexual dissatisfaction.

However, although excessive masturbation can have negative effects, many people find that masturbating alone or with their partner can actually enhance their sex life.

In addition, masturbation may be associated with many health benefits and is considered one of the safest forms of sexual activity because it does not pose a risk of pregnancy or STIs.

Does Masturbation Cause A Decrease In Sexual Sensitivity?

For those peoples who have sexual dysfunction, increased arousal – including masturbation – can help increase sexual desire and sensitivity.

In fact, a 2018 review published in the Journal of Sexual and Relationship Therapy reports that the use of vibrators may be beneficial for treating erectile or ejaculatory dysfunction and anorgasmia, or difficulty reaching orgasm. According to the review, vibrator use may also be associated with improvements in sexual desire and sexual function for both men and women.

Masturbation can affect sensitivity during sex for people with sex due to their technique. Research from 2022 showed that too much stimulation on the penis during masturbation can reduce sensation.

Sometimes referred to as death grip syndrome, this makes it more difficult to reach orgasm during intercourse.

If you use tight grips, try changing your technique during masturbation to restore sensitivity levels during sex.

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