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Masturbation - Harms and Benefits

Talking about masturbation is not a popular conversation topic even in most sexual health clinics.

A clutch of stems with brown flowers on a bright yellow background.

But - it's an important area to cover as many theories or opinions abound which may not be strictly correct.

What is Masturbation?

Here's a great definition of Masturbation from the NHS Choices website:

Masturbation is when you get sexual pleasure from touching your genitals, usually with your hand.

You can masturbate yourself or a partner. Masturbation usually leads to an orgasm.

Generally, men and boys masturbate by rubbing or moving their hand up and down their erect penis.

Women and girls may use their fingers or hand to rub the area around their clitoris or vagina.

In some cultures, Masturbation is a taboo word.

This is particularly because of the cultural and spiritual/religious beliefs behind masturbation - and a lot of the former is based on the latter.

How Different People Think About Masturbation

It's probably accurate to say that for a very long time, two of the major religions have considered the practice of masturbation as ungodly.

For more details, here are links for followers of the Christian and Islamic faiths to consider.

In this article, let us address the very real concerns some people have about masturbation and its impact on physical or mental health.

Common Questions about Masturbation

  • Can the practice of masturbation damage the sexual organs?
    • Generally No.  If masturbation is performed with the hands only, the most damage may be soreness of the penis, vulva or vagina.
    • This arises from the excessive rubbing of the genitals and if it is an over-frequent practice.

  • However, when sex toys are employed, the picture becomes slightly different.
    • These may cause abrasions or skin tears.
    • They could get lodged high up the vaginal canal and so medical assistance required for their removal.

Masturbation does not cause the penis to bend or result in blindness.

  • Can Masturbation cause infertility?
    • No. Again, this is false.
    • Masturbation stimulates the sexual organs and leads to orgasm and in men, the ejaculation of semen.
    • This is no different from ejaculation that occurs during sexual intercourse.
    • There is also no evidence that self-stimulation 'weakens' the male seminal fluid or renders the woman infertile.

  • Can Masturbation spread infections?
    • Yes, this is quite possible - more common if you use sex toys.
    • If this is the case, make sure to clean thoroughly after use which prevents the development of vaginal infections (for example).
    • Sexually Transmitted Infections like Chlamydia or Gonorrhoea are unlikely to be transmitted from self-stimulation - until a sexual partner is included.

  • Can it cause mental health problems?
    • No. There is absolutely no evidence that masturbation leads to any form of mental illness or emotional problems.
    • It does not lead to sexual deviancy or hypersexuality.
    • Some people may complain of anxiety or low moods when there is over frequent masturbation or it is the only form of sexual release.
    • This could be associated with other

What is POSITIVE about Masturbation?

Well, it could provide a release of sexual tension.

For some, it also helps with sleep and relaxation.

Some therapists recommend masturbation for men who suffer from premature ejaculation.

Some could argue that it has less risk of getting a sexual infection from an infected partner.

Research published in JAMA Paediatrics indicates it is a normal part of sexual development.

It is a frequent occurrence in teens.

Health care practitioners should be able to discuss masturbation and related issues with people in the bid to provide them with quality health care advice.

So what do you think? Have you any thoughts for or against Masturbation?

Please share, or ask away...........

More Reading:

Can Having Too Little Sex Make You Sick?

Sexually Transmitted Infections(STIs).

Practices That Could Increas Your Risk of STIs

Editing by AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner. To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly through

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