Masturbation is a common activity. It’s a natural and safe way to explore your body, feel pleasure, and release built-up sexual tension. It occurs among people of all backgrounds, genders, and races.
Despite the myths, there are actually no physically harmful side effects of masturbation. However, excessive masturbation can harm your relationships and everyday life. Other than that, masturbation is a fun, normal, and healthy act.
Side effects of masturbation
Masturbation doesn’t have any harmful side effects. However, some people may feel guilty about masturbating or have issues with chronic masturbation. People may feel guilty about masturbating because of cultural, spiritual, or religious beliefs. If you feel guilty over masturbating, speak with someone you trust about why you feel this way and how you can move past that guilt. Therapists that specialize in sexual health may be a good resource.
Some people can and do develop an addiction to masturbation. You may be spending too much time masturbating if masturbation causes you to:
- Skip your chores or daily activities.
- Miss work or school.
- Cancel plans with friends or family.
- Miss important social events.
Addiction to masturbation can harm your relationships and other parts of your life. Masturbating too much may interrupt your work or studies, which can lower productivity.
If you’re worried you may have an addiction to masturbation, speak with your doctor or a counselor about ways to cut down on masturbating. You could also cut down by replacing masturbation with other activities. Next time you have an urge to masturbate, try:
- Going for a run.
- Writing in a journal.
- Spending time with friends.
- Going for a walk.
Does masturbation cause a decrease in sexual sensitivity?
For women who have sexual dysfunction, enhanced stimulation — including masturbation — can help increase sexual desire and sensitivity. In fact, two 2009 studies found that vibrator use among women and men has been linked to an increase in desire, arousal, and overall sexual function. Women also reported an increase in lubrication, while men reported better erectile function, according to the studies.
Masturbation can affect sensitivity during sex for men because of their technique. Research has shown that too tight of a grip on a penis during masturbation can decrease sensation. Sexual health experts recommend changing your technique during masturbation to restore sensitivity levels during sex.
Masturbation and Prostate Cancer
Some research suggests that regular ejaculation may lower the risk of prostate cancer, though doctors aren’t exactly sure why. A 2016 study found the risk of prostate cancer decreased by about 20 percent in men who ejaculated at least 21 times a month. A 2003 study also discovered a similar link between frequent ejaculation and lower prostate cancer risk.
There’s no evidence, though, that ejaculating regularly protects against advanced prostate cancer.
Masturbation during pregnancy
Masturbation may not be safe for women with high-risk pregnancies. This is because orgasm can increase your chances of labor. Hormone changes during pregnancy cause some pregnant women to feel heightened sexual desire. Masturbation is a safe way to release sexual tension during pregnancy.
Self-pleasure may also help ease pregnancy symptoms, such as lower back pain. You may feel mild, irregular cramping, or Braxton-Hicks contractions, during and after orgasm. If the contractions don’t disappear and become more painful and frequent, contact your doctor right away.