Is masturbating good or bad for your health?

Hand grabbing bed sheets

Hand grabbing bed sheets

Well, folks, the verdict from the experts is in: Masturbation is good for your health.

Like it or not, or approve of it or not, masturbating offers a few health benefits, and it’s perfectly normal to want to spend a night alone with some candles and some mood music, once in a while.

Masturbation is good for your health: How so?

So, let’s get right down to it: What are the health benefits of masturbation, the stimulation of your own genitals for sexual arousal?

According to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Planned Parenthood, some of the reasons why masturbation is good for your health include:

  • It provides a safe sexual outlet.
  • It can be a pleasurable alternative to intercourse, offering STI and pregnancy prevention.
  • It can improve sleep patterns.
  • It helps you learn about your sexual desires and what works for you sexually.
  • It can help reduce stress levels.
  • It can increase the ability to achieve orgasms.
  • It can prevent and relieve menstrual cramps.
  • It can improve self-esteem.
  • It can strengthen pelvic floor muscles.
  • It can help treat sexual dysfunction.

“Today we have greater knowledge and understanding about masturbation being a healthy sexual practice, and we know that 95% of men and 89% of women masturbate,” sexologist Joanne Bagshaw, PhD, a psychology and women’s studies professor at Montgomery College, tells saludmóvil™.

“However, some of the effects of thinking of masturbation as a moral failure or mental illness are still felt, particularly for women,” she adds.

“There has been a cultural shift in more acceptance of men’s masturbation practices, but sadly a double standard exists for women’s sexuality. For instance, a majority of college-aged women feel confused about whether or not masturbating is normal.”

Speaking of that…wouldn’t some argue masturbation is wrong?

There are plenty of ways people have been made to feel masturbation is not good.

It’s a story almost as old as the concept of masturbation itself; someone, somewhere, has probably told you masturbating is bad for you.

Let’s see. Have you heard masturbation:

  • Makes you blind?
  • Takes years off your life?
  • Causes acne?
  • Makes your palms hairy?
  • Prevents you from having children?
  • Make you a sex-crazed criminal?
  • Makes you crazy?

If so, join the club. Many people have been told these things to keep them from exploring themselves sexually.

While such myths about masturbation can be traced back to over-protective parents, cultural beliefs, religious rules, and older kids on the school bus, the good news is none of them are true.

Masturbation is not bad for you, and it won’t lead to any of the above-listed issues.

“Historically, Christian churches forbade masturbation for both men and women, as they opposed any sexual practice that didn’t result in procreation, therefore labeling masturbation a mortal sin,” notes Bagshaw.

Think you’ve got it bad now? Bagshaw says that in the 19th century, companies like Kelloggs pushed a bland diet (corn flakes, or graham crackers anyone?) under the belief that spicy or flavorful food might lead to sexual desire.

Doctors would also perform clitoridectomies on women and confine children and teens in straightjackets to eliminate masturbation practices.

When is masturbation bad for your health?

Even though there are a number of reasons why masturbation is good for your mental and sexual health, like any good thing, you can have too much of it.

“Generally speaking, masturbation is a healthy, positive behavior with many benefits such as stress reduction, increased awareness of one’s sexuality, and an overall improvement of one’s health,” says Bagshaw. 

“If someone is masturbating compulsively, or in a manner that makes it very difficult to orgasm with a partner — men, think death grip syndrome — then these behaviors could be of some concern,” she cautions.

Bottom line: If masturbating is interfering with your daily activities and lifestyle and your sexual life in general, you may need to re-evaluate how much time you’re spending with yourself.

There are such things as compulsive masturbation and masturbation addiction; if you can’t go without masturbating, even for important events, it may be time to see a doctor or sexologist.

Masturbation guilt?

Among the biggest health issues related to masturbation is something which isn’t really an issue with the act itself — it comes from the guilt some people feel over masturbating.

Shame and embarrassment can be powerful emotions, and sometimes these feelings can lead to sexual dysfunction, depression, and other mental health issues.

If you’re feeling confused about whether or not masturbation is bad for you, if you feel guilty about exploring your body, or if you are unsure how to start your self-exploration journey, talk to your doctor. It may be difficult or embarrassing to bring up the subject at first, but a trusted and compassionate doctor will be able to give you advice without judgement.


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