Rethinking the Wonders of Adult Masturbation

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Mainstream masturbation advice

How much masturbation is right for you? Consider the facts and make your own experiment.

Have you been taught that adult masturbation is so healthy that it's practically a tonic, that all orgasms are equally beneficial, that there's no such thing as too much ejaculation, and that there are dire consequences from not masturbating very frequently?

If so, you'll be stunned to learn that these widespread beliefs rest on little more than hearsay, and are not supported by recent science. In fact, a growing body of research is undermining them. Researcher Rui Miguel Costa recently summed up the current research (reported below) in the Archives of Sexual Behavior: "Masturbation is Related to Psychopathology and Prostate Dysfunction."

Solid information about masturbation is particularly important today. With the advent of highspeed and endless erotic novelty-at-a-click, it's easy for users to override the body's signals that it has had enough. Moreover, for today's twenty-somethings masturbation and Internet porn use are pretty much synonymous, so if masturbation's "good for you," then using Internet porn to masturbate even more frequently will keep you extra healthy. Youthful logic at its best!

This is not to say that anyone should feel bad about engaging in solo sex. It's just to say that you might see benefits from rechanneling your sexual desire. Meanwhile, here's the skinny on five popular masturbation myths:

Myth # 1 - "Frequent masturbation prevents prostate cancer"

The politically incorrect truth is that the health benefits of orgasm are primarily related to sexual intercourse with another human being, specifically penile-vaginal intercourse (PVI) not masturbation. However, most of the existing prostate-cancer research inadvertently veiled this reality by asking poorly chosen questions. Researchers assumed that all ejaculations would have equal effect on prostate cancer (if any), so they counted masturbation, PVI and other orgasm-producing behavior simply as "ejaculation." Also, they had to rely on men's recollections about sexual activity decades earlier.

Results were, not surprisingly, inconsistent. As the researchers of the study most frequently cited in support of Myth # 1 stated, "Nine studies observed a statistically significant or nonsignificant positive association; 3 studies reported no association; 7 studies found a statistically significant or nonsignificant inverse relationship; and 1 study found a U-shaped relationship." Conclusion? "Ejaculation frequency is not related to increased risk of prostate cancer."

Alas, the few studies that reported an association between recalled frequency of ejaculation and lower prostate cancer risk (only in certain age groups) grabbed the headlines. They gave rise to the popular myth that "The more one masturbates at any age, the greater one's protection against prostate cancer." No research entirely supports this cheerful assumption.

In fact, frequent masturbation alone was a marker for increased risk of prostate cancer in the 20s, 30s and 40s when researchers finally thought to distinguish masturbation activity from PVI (in 2009). PVI proved to be protective of prostate health in older men and neutral in effect in younger men. Moreover, quite apart from prostate cancer, in men with ED, frequent masturbation was associated with other problems of the prostate, including higher prostate specific antigen levels and swollen or tender prostate. In other words, an attempt to masturbate your way to a healthy prostate may not work out.

Myth # 2 - "Frequent masturbation benefits your sex life"

Did you know that greater masturbation frequency is associated with impaired sexual function in both men and women, and with greater dissatisfaction with relationships and less love for partners? Greater masturbation frequency is also associated with more depressive symptoms and several other indicators of poorer physical and mental health, including greater blood pressure reactivity to stress, anxious attachment and immature psychological defense mechanisms.

Obviously, this research doesn't prove masturbation causes these problems, but it does make it tough to assert that masturbation is a health tonic. In short, if you are lucky enough to have a partner, follow Bill Maher's hilarious advice and at least make masturbation your second choice.

Myth # 3 - "Orgasm is orgasm"

Since the time of Kinsey it has been asserted, but never supported by evidence, that all sexual behavior is equivalent. That has been more an assertion of ideology than fact. —Stuart Brody, research psychologist

As explained above, intercourse (PVI) is related to better psychological and physical health, better sexual function and better intimate relationship quality—compared with both masturbation and other partnered sexual behaviors. Said one woman:

I did not have morning depression after orgasm during the decade I was having orgasms with my husband. All the affection that filled our lovemaking smoothed out and covered up the negative effect orgasm seems to have on me as a widow. Climaxing with a loved one is very different from climaxing with empty lips and vagina.

As explained in The Lazy Way to Stay in Love, certain behaviors register with a primitive part of the brain as attachment cues. Such cues bond humans because they soothe the brain's defensiveness by releasing oxytocin in the amygdala. They are a natural anti-anxiety mechanism. Regular warm touch, for example, has been shown to reduce blood pressure, especially in men.

Does affectionate intercourse register as an attachment cue in a way that solo sex does not? Certainly differences show up even in the hormonal signature of the two activities. For example, intercourse with climax releases four times the prolactin of masturbation, helping to put the brakes on sexual desire for a time. In other words, climaxes obtained by different means are not interchangeable in terms of effects.

It makes perfect sense that intercourse offers greater physiological and psychological rewards than other jollies because evolution favors behaviors that can propel genes into the future. An exchange of affectionate touch probably registers as rewarding precisely because it helps bond parentsand offspring with two devoted caregivers have better survival odds.

Solo sexMoreover, as Brody and others have pointed out, evolution would select for psychobiological mechanisms that reward PVIbecause incentives to masturbate instead entail fitness costs. Indeed, today's supernormal sexual stimuli appear more than capable of enticing some users away from the benefits of PVI (and genetic immortality).

Obviously, masturbation today is not uncommon among those also having intercourse, but interestingly, even then, masturbation is not icing on the cake. In fact, greater masturbation frequency is associated with dissatisfaction about several aspects of life independently of PVI frequency, and even seems to diminish some benefits of PVI.

If you can, compare intercourse and masturbation yourself and see what you observe over the days following.

Myth # 4 - "There's no such thing as too much masturbation"

Guys are reporting that too much masturbation is definitely possible with today's highspeed porn. Here are some indications (taken from self-reports of heavy Internet porn users):

  • Masturbation to the point of dry ejaculation or painful climaxes
  • Sores, blisters, swelling, bruise marks or calluses on one's genitals from too much friction
  • Loss of ability to "feel" intercourse or oral sex
  • Loss of interest in real sex with real partners, uncharacteristic sexual tastes
  • Edging for hours to defer climax, often because it is becoming less pleasurable
  • Other chronic addiction-related symptoms, such as uncharacteristic social anxiety, brain fog, depression, youthful sexual performance problems, and severe withdrawal symptoms when they stop, etc.

Why has our culture not investigated the possibility of too much masturbation? Probably becauseuntil quite recentlyfew people slammed into the wall of excessive masturbation. They quit when they'd had enough.

The culprit today is effortless access to ever-novel sexual stimuli hot enough to override our innate sexual satiety, and even throw some brains into addiction. This is such a new phenomenon that research hasn't caught up with reality. Many stories are heart-rending, and the role of highspeed evident:

I was a bodybuilder. I went from 220 to 180, even WITH exercising and eating lots of organic food and excess calories. I was wasting away to nothing. I started getting all these weird irrational fears around people. I felt shaky and weak. My voice is more hollow, if that makes sense. I lost myself. I was depressed constantly. I stopped leaving my house; my friends slowly faded. So I'm now a skinny socially awkward pale weirdo, lol, where I used to be the King of my campus... wtf! I didn't change ANY OTHER VARIABLE IN MY LIFE except for getting addicted to pornography and fapping more often. That's it. I was still thinking positively, going out to bars, eating healthy, exercising, all that jazz. The ONLY thing that increased was my love affair with the fake girls on the blaring pixelated screen. I seriously feel like I can't concentrate or comprehend much after a binge, some days I'm literally bed-ridden because my eyestrain is so bad....

Consider this guy's poor co-worker:

A few months ago the company handed out new smart phones for navigation to employees who did not already have one. It was only a matter of time before my co-worker discovered the magical world of porn. The other day he was driving down the road in a company car and masturbating on the highway WITH another coworker in the car. It's also destroying his relationship with his wife because he would rather go home and jack-off to porn than have sex.

Limitations are natural in all other physiological activities, whether drinking water, eating, exercise, time in the sun, weight-lifting, staying awake or staying in bed. Moreover, other mammals have limits on their sexual activity. For example, if rats ejaculate before they have recovered from sexual satiety, they show marked symptoms. Humans also have limits. Compared with other species, for example, viable human sperm is somewhat easily depleted.

For now, however, the belief that self-pleasuring is unbound by the rule of moderation remains firmly entrenched. This assumption may arise in part because, as people slip into addiction (thanks to the supernormal stimulation of highspeed porn), they mistake inflamed cravings for a monster libido. A 30-year old said,

I really empathize with the younger guys who started on highspeed from the onset of puberty. It's kind of like shooting heroin before you've even had your first beer.

No amount of climax or edging will satisfy an addicted brain, so those who get hooked feel like they never have enough. Also, when guys who are severely addicted quit, they often experience a temporary, but alarming, drop in libido and penile sensitivity—not to mention other agonizing withdrawal symptoms—which can drive them right back to highspeed porn in a panic, and deeper into their addiction.

Myth # 5 - "You can't cut back on masturbation without harming yourself"

Thousands of guys (and even some gals) are discovering that cutting out masturbation to porn, and temporarily abstaining from/drastically reducing masturbation are actually resulting in the opposite of harm or repressed sexual response—namely, surprising benefits.

You can find their reports on forums like this one, which poses a 90-day challenge. Here are a few self-reports from other sites (more self-reports):

  • I'm a 20-something year old guy and ... I've been neglecting a lot of relationships as a result of [porn use]; I've been easily irritated, overly critical, shy and insecure - the list goes on. I  abstained from porn/masturbation last summer without knowing I actually had a problem on my hands (pun intended) but MAN did I feel a difference! I became more aware, happier, more social, optimistic and stable. My experience was reeking of what I can only describe as a powerful masculinity and inner calmness; it was what life should be. I was extremely witty, outgoing, hyperactive and creative. Today (before quitting) I am somewhat insecure, shy, approval seeking, and nowhere near emotionally independent.
  • I am 21 years old, and I feel like I have a lot of things to make up for all of these last few mostly unproductive years. To say I become spineless if I indulge in PMO is seriously an understatement. I just become too emotional, no confidence, no clarity, can't think straight. And I seriously have gone YEARS living like this. Now I am controlled, stable, focused, super confident, and have a very sharp mind. And this is only 22 days. When you save your energy up, you get that unconquerable will where what would have been huge walls in your past become little knee-high fences you just have to step over.
  • The other day, I found different report cards and teacher evals from before I started chronically masturbating and after. There was a noticeable difference in both my performance (no pun intended) and in the way my teachers evaluated me. My academics were clearly stronger before I started whacking it several times a day. Yes, it could be a coincidence but I honestly do not think so after noticing how much more productive and focused I am when I lay off for a short while.

Now that you've reconsidered the popular masturbation myths, make your own experiment. Challenge yourself for a couple of months and see what you notice. Everyone's brain and habits are different. Ultimately, it's the results in your own laboratory that matter to you.

_____

Addendum: Descriptive Experiences and Sexual vs. Nurturant Aspects of Cuddling between Adult Romantic Partners

From the study: "Cuddling frequency and enjoyment [correlates] positively with partnered sexual activities, but negatively with solitary sexuality." In other words, the more someone masturbates, the less he enjoys affectionate contact. Not surprisingly, many ex-porn users report that cuddling becomes increasingly pleasurable with time. 

Studies on the overlap between sex and drugs in the brain    

Comments

am quiting porn and masturbation they've destroyed my life

Am 33 years of age and have been addicted to masturbation for quite a while. The funny thing is that am married to a beautiful lady and has a beautiful baby girl. My problem with masturbation began quite early in life while i was a teen. I discovered it when me and my friends decided to go and watch a porn movie. What i did not know was this single adventure would hook me up to a habit hard to break.

After watching the movie my sexual urges surged and i had no girlfriend to release my tension with. Therefore, i decided to try what i saw in the movies and i discovered it was pleasurable. That one act made me to continue to seek for more thrills that it continued until i got to college. After some years of whacking in college i decided that it was time for me to quit. So i confessed everything i had done all those years to a friend of mine whom we attended church with and i asked him to forgive and he did. I felt a heavy weight had been lifted and i wanted to reconstruct my life again. I had lost lots of confidence, was self reserved, suffered from self-pity, had lost integrity, and had lost emotional balance.

I started well,after a week i discovered i had not considered masturbating. Slowly i gained confidence and i started seeking new relationships. I started looking at people and myself in a different way. My respect for women improved drastically and I felt a sense of self-worth. I became ambitious and i knew what i wanted to become. Suddenly i fell in love with a girl and had lots of fun with her during my courtship. I respected her and i decided that i would wait to make love to her after we get married. I proposed to her and she did not have a problem accepting my proposal.

when we got married i had already recovered from my bad habits and for sure we enjoyed our honeymoon. The act of lovemaking was awesome and it was something greater compared to masturbation and porn. It made me feel loved and secure. I never felt the guilt that came with masturbation and porn,in fact it made me more confident and responsible to my wife. Real sex made me bond to someone more than ever for the first time in my life.

my wife later conceived and gave birth to our daughter. her attention took a turn to care more for our child as any mother would do. I felt as if i was being left alone and my demand for sex was not being met as it used to be. sometime we would have sex and she would ask me to ejaculate in a hurry even before getting enough of it. As a result i started having premature ejaculations and this was the beginning of all my troubles all over again. I masturbated once again thinking it would be it, but as a result of this one act i relapsed to my bad behavior once again.

Nowadays am an empty shell that cannot be able to love his wife as i used to. I whack three times a week and sometimes three times a day. what that does to me is quite detrimental. It leaves me with a sense of deep emptiness, blame, irritability, shame, guilt, lack of confidence, lack of self control, my mind seem clouded and cannot think straight. Like many other people i read articles about how masturbation is good for your health, and how it can help you stop having premature ejaculations, but instead it made everything worse.

I have read your articles and am making a decision today to stop this habit because its taking my relationship with my wife away. i want to truly love again and be loved in return, but i want to be the one to take a different turn for my life to become more productive again. I know if i resolve to stop masturbating my body chemistry will change and i'll be able to desire my wife again.

To the young men out there, don't be deceived that masturbation equals normal sex. It will take away your innocence and confidence and also your ability to love a woman as you should be. Lets take this bold move to do the right thing and save sane relationships. Masturbation will kill your Godly endowed desire and make you live in shadows of selfishness. I have learn't the hard way and am willing to fight for the right course once again. May God give me the grace and the will to quit forever.

Thanks to everyone who wrote about their experiences that made me know that i was taking a path of destruction. we need many such people who have no fear to speak the truth in a world that is full of lies.

When I read Men: Does Frequent Ejaculation Cause A Hangover?, this paragraph stood out -

It appears that some heavy porn users may be mistaking their persistent cravings for raging libido, when the cravings are actually addiction-related and arising from a sluggish dopamine response in their reward circuitry. 

 I could actually identify with this. Although I was never into porn, I used to fap 2-3 times a day. I used to think I must be really awesome to have such a strong libido when most articles mentioned couples having sex 2-3 times a week.

Also, all my problems in life such as depression, inability to focus, grades in school suffering etc started around the same time I started fapping. If only I had known then that masturbation was the cause of my problems, my life would have been so different.

Ahh well better late than never..!

fireworksI first discovered masturbation at a relatively early age, when I was 9 years old (I am now 17).

I remember always feeling severe guilt about onanism, even though, at the time, I had no reason to. I was always on the lookout for a beacon of
sorts, a reason to give up masturbation for good, but found it quite
difficult, which is understandable, considering the fact that our
modern, western society considers masturbation to be something normal,
or even essential. So after a short period of abstinence at age 14, I
just decided to give up and go with the flow. That is, until I found
NoFap.

I stumbled across NoFap when I was already on the upward
curve, which probably made quitting PMO much easier for me than for most
people. I, for reasons I sincerely cannot remember, had decided to
masturbate only once per week, on Saturdays. I now see that this
interval between PMO sessions was because testosterone levels are
highest one week after ejaculation. So, in other words, I would jerk off
when I hit that peak. I was just about to masturbate when I typed
"reasons not to masturbate" into Google, which lead me to the famous
TEDx talk and, eventually, to this forum. I, having finally found a
reason (or a number of them) quit masturbation "cold turkey" and, I must
say, it has been quite the life-changer.

The benefits I have
noticed are numerous, and I really feel like I have become a Different
person. I feel more like a man, I feel strong and ready to deal with my
day-to-day problems. I have experienced a sudden burst in the growth of
my facial hair, and I find it easier to sing lowers notes (I'm in a
band). I notice girls and women looking at me much more often. I have a
different attitude towards women, which is hard to describe, but I can
say I pay much more attention to a girls character than I used to, I'm
not just out to get laid. I get more potent erections and I get them
more often. I find more things arousing in general, I'm more sensitive
to my surroundings. I feel more "human" more "natural", I feel like I
have returned my body to the state and cycle it was meant to exist in. I
wish the same for you.

Thanks for reading this obnoxiously long post,

Goldmund

By goldmund

Thread: My Story(90 days+ since last PMO)

 

Age 17 - I have become a different person. I feel more like a man