To masturbate or not to masturbate—that is the question! While Hamlet may not have thought over it, for many, it’s been a real dilemma given the bad rap of masturbation throughout history. We’ve made significant progress from the times when doctors tried to “cure” masturbation “disease” by using painful and extreme methods like genital cages, or rather, entertaining ones. Did you know that cornflakes and Graham crackers were designed to stop “chronic” masturbators? Yet, we still hear echoes from the past warning people against self-pleasure and scaring them into thinking that masturbation will ruin their lives.
Hence, the time has come to set the record straight: solo sex practice is healthy and natural! It’s a normal part of our sexual development and sexual health. Not only that, it’s also a great source of pleasure and sexual exploration. There is nothing inherently bad about masturbation. Actually, science suggests that there are a lot of potential health benefits of masturbating. But don’t just take my word for it. Read on to learn how science has debunked the most common masturbation myths and misconceptions about the benefits of not masturbating. We’ll also explore how self-pleasure can make you feel happier and healthier!
Masturbation can cause serious health problems such as blindness, hair loss, madness, and hairy palms
There is absolutely no scientific proof for any of those statements. None! These masturbation myths seem to come from times when the only acceptable form of sex was for making babies. Therefore, people glorified the benefits of not masturbating. Since masturbation is all about pleasure without procreation, first society and religion condemned it as a sin, and then doctors seriously pathologized it. Our ancestors came up with pretty elaborate horror stories and barbaric methods to stop people from touching themselves. But, thankfully, times have changed. You don’t have to believe those old tales anymore! If they were true, our planet would be full of blind, bald, and mad people with Chewbacca-like hands!
Masturbation causes erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the consistent inability to get or keep an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual performance. Many men experience issues with getting and keeping it hard at some point in their lives. And that’s okay since we aren’t robots! However, a lot of researchers are quite positive that masturbation does not cause ED. Some of the risk factors contributing to ED, besides age, are diabetes, urinary tract problems, alcohol, smoking, certain medications, heart disease, stress, anxiety, and depression.
I know it’s hard not to buy into a popular narrative that links masturbating with porn to ED. However, there is no evidence to suggest that masturbation using porn causes ED. For instance, the research published in the International Journal of Impotence Research in 2022 indicates that “masturbation frequency and pornography use show weak or no association with erectile functioning and ED severity.” That being said, we can’t dismiss the fact that for some people, porn use can become problematic because of some underlying psychological and health issues. These often go hand in hand with feelings of shame and guilt. In this case, it’s recommended to make conscious choices and seek professional help.
How to masturbate without porn
The secret ingredient to a happier sex life is variety. So, if porn isn’t your cup of tea or you’d like to know how to masturbate without porn, here are some porn-free tips for your next solo sex practice:
- Use your erotic imagination. Our brain is the most sexual organ in our body. It’s a loss not to use its erotic power to the fullest! What happens when we watch porn is that we get used to rapid stimulation, often bypassing our innate capacity to engage creatively with our erotic imagination. So, turn on your fantasy switch! Spice it up by reading or listening to erotica, or replaying those steamy memories of your most exciting sexual encounters!
- Explore the sex toy dimension. The world of sex tech is booming currently, offering a lot of enjoyable solutions to tailor to the most tempted seekers of pleasure!
- Be a sensual gourmand. Keep it slow, explore your whole body, not just your genitals, focus on your senses, and tease yourself! The sky of pleasure is the limit!
When you switch from one fixed pleasure routine to another, it might take some time to adjust and reach the desired level of satisfaction. But it’s so much worth it! At the end of the day, sticking to just one pleasure pattern is like going to a restaurant full of exquisite and diverse dishes but instead ordering the same one every time. Sooner or later, it may become quite dull.
Masturbating in a relationship means that things aren’t going well
The common misconception is that if someone engages in solo sex activity in a partnered relationship, it’s a sign of a hidden relationship problem. Some may jump to the conclusion that their partners are no longer interested in or satisfied with their partnered sexual experiences. This can lead to feeling left out, unwanted, and inadequate. But if your partner doesn’t rely solely on masturbation for sexual pleasure, then there is no need for concern. In fact, science tells us that indulging in self-pleasure can be very beneficial for a relationship. Masturbating in a relationship is a great way to learn more about your sexual likes, dislikes, and needs, which you can then share with your partner. This communication alone can boost your mutual pleasure and amp up intimacy in your relationship.
Moreover, people masturbate not only for sexual gratification. It’s also a way to release stress and tension and relax. These reasons do not necessarily signal a relationship problem. For instance, a 2017 Archives of Sexual Behavior survey of 15,738 people in the U.S. demonstrated that female participants tended to masturbate more when they were having satisfactory and frequent partnered sex. In essence, they used solo sex to complement their already fulfilling sex. Fascinating, isn’t it?
Additionally, solo sex can help balance differences in libidos within a relationship. Mismatched libidos, coming from natural variations in sexual desires or as a result of long-term relationships when sexual desires may wane, can be successfully managed through solo sexual practices.
Masturbation decreases testosterone
Another popular myth about masturbation is that it negatively affects testosterone levels. The NoFap movement popularized this myth by citing a 2002 study claiming that men who didn’t masturbate for a week experienced a 45% increase in their testosterone levels on the seventh day. Testosterone is a sex hormone mostly associated with sex drive. It plays an essential role in sperm production. It also affects bone and muscle mass and mood.
So, what is NoFap? NoFap started on Reddit in 2011 as a discussion between men who had given up masturbation and shared the purported health benefits of abstaining from solo sex. But what is fapping, anyway? Well, the term came from the internet lingo “fap”, which mimics the masturbating sound.
Today, NoFap has 1.1 million followers on Reddit. It describes itself as “a porn addiction and compulsive sexual behavior recovery peer support forum”. It promises its followers numerous physical and mental benefits of no fap, including increased happiness, muscle growth, better sleep, and even improved stamina and cured ED.
But what does science actually tell us about the link between masturbation and testosterone levels? Well, first of all, the original cited research was very small – just 28 men. Upon closer examination, it appeared that the men’s T levels went back to normal just a day after the initial spike. Furthermore, there happened to be another larger study with more respondents that found that masturbation can likely increase testosterone levels in the body.
Most researchers agree that there is not enough evidence to support the claimed benefits of not masturbating, that NoFap followers report. Some experts believe that the “placebo effect” may come into play. When people believe that they’ll gain those benefits by joining a community driven by the same ideas, their expectations make the outcome happen. And here’s something important to consider: For most people who join such communities and movements, masturbation may be linked to feelings of shame and guilt about sex. That usually happens when someone’s religious, cultural, or even political views regard sex as taboo.
In this case, abstaining from sexual practices and taking part in such communities may provide temporary relief for these individuals. However, it’s important to question whether these communities truly help them address the underlying shameful messages and heal the moral conflicts related to sexuality.
The health benefits of masturbation
If you still doubt that masturbation is good for you, take a look at some science-backed health perks of solo sex activity:
- Less stress, better mood. Masturbation triggers the release of various hormones and chemicals involved in the brain’s pleasure-rewarding system. This “happy and stimulating” cocktail of dopamine, oxytocin, endorphin, serotonin, and prolactin helps reduce stress levels, promotes relaxation, and improves your mood.
- Better sleep. A 2019 study discovered that orgasms achieved through masturbation were associated with the perception of better sleep quality.
- Pain relief. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. For instance, Womanizer conducted a Menstrubation study where women were asked to masturbate during their periods. As a result, 90% of respondents said they would recommend self-pleasure to ease period pain to others.
- Immune boost. This research indicates that men who had recently masturbated to orgasm demonstrated better immune system functioning.
- Reduced prostate cancer risk. Frequent ejaculation is linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer.
- Higher self-esteem and confidence. Exploring your sexual body responses and learning how to pleasure yourself can empower you and help improve your body image.
- Better sex. Once you know what gets you off, you can teach your partner, which can potentially translate to a more enjoyable shared sexual experience. A comparative study published in the Journal of Sex Education & Therapy concluded that masturbating women had “significantly more orgasms, greater sexual desire, and greater marital and sexual satisfaction, and required less time to sexual arousal.”
The bottom line
These potential health benefits of masturbation show us that solo sex activity is a perfectly healthy and natural part of our sexual lives. Being the safest path to pleasure, it can contribute positively to our mental, relational, and physical well-being. Of course, no one can or should make you engage in me-time if you have personal reasons for abstaining. However, an essential part of sexual maturity and happiness involves doing your own research, separating myths from facts, and making informed and conscious sexual choices accordingly. As they say, your body, your choices. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable!
Disclaimer: #Dating’s blog posts are for you to view at your discretion, and the sexual health insights presented are for general information only. It is not intended as medical advice and readers should seek professional guidance if appropriate.