FYI: Masturbating Wrong Can Lead To Sexual Dysfunction

FYI: Masturbating Wrong Can Lead To Sexual Dysfunction

2018-09-18

Do you masturbate? If you answered ‘no’, you’re likely to be one of those automated internet bots; or else you’re probably lying, according to a recent survey on sexual health and behavior. The study showed that for people in their twenties, 84.6 per cent of women and 93 per cent of men admitted to masturbating! But if so many of us are doing it, why aren’t we speaking openly about it?

Why is masturbation taboo?

Why do kids love to put sugar on corn flakes? This is because corn flakes are, well, bland; and this is no coincidence. The product was designed by a medical doctor called John Kellogg – a proponent of the anti-masturbation movement who intentionally made corn flakes neutral tasting as he believed a bland diet would reduce sexual desire!

This idea that masturbation is bad has been reinforced by other ill-informed health professionals of the 20th century. It was said, for example, that rubbing one out could cause blindness, cancer, tuberculosis and a range of other ailments – ideas which have since been disproved. And of course, since biblical times religious institutions have told us that masturbation is a mortal sin. Why is our society so uncomfortable about the simple act of tugging the slug?

Life is chaotic and unpredictable – we all know this, on some level. As a society, then, we experience an unconscious need to gain a sense of control over ourselves, our lives and our world. Sexual urges are natural and inevitable – we’re going to experience them one way or another. But masturbation is an act which we can choose to control.

By portraying masturbation as dirty, bad, forbidden and unhealthy, we are giving ourselves a wonderfully simple choice: don’t masturbate and you’ll be good; do the five-finger shuffle and you’ll be bad. This may be part of the reason why masturbation is a taboo topic: it’s comforting, on a psychological level, to have things set out in black and white and to portray something that we don’t fully understand as being bad.

Why should we speak more openly about masturbation?

Upon reaching a legal drinking age, an adolescent is likely to pay a trip to the bottle store. Ideally, the teen should also get a lecture on how to drink responsibly. The same should apply when it comes to masturbation! Let’s explore why.

1. Sex addition is a growing phenomenon

Can you become addicted to masturbation, or perhaps porn? Sex-based addictions and compulsions aren’t yet counted as official diagnoses in their own right, at least not by the American Psychiatric Association. But that doesn’t mean that these problems aren’t real! A visit to any sexual health clinic – or my own consulting room, for that matter – will show that compulsive porn use and masturbation (which often go hand-in-hand) can cause big problems in people’s lives. It’s by talking about these risks -and creating a space where people feel comfortable to ask for support – that we can combat this problem.

2. Incorrect masturbation habits are linked to sexual dysfunction

Some of us may have developed a habit of rushing through masturbation – we learnt this when we were shameful adolescents, nervous about being caught or overheard by our parents. Rushing the process, however, trains our bodies to do the same during sex; and this can lead to a form of sexual dysfunction called premature ejaculation, which can be extremely distressing and emotionally debilitating for men who suffer from it.

Furthermore, do you use porn to help you masturbate? If so, you’re not alone; but researchtells us that porn actually changes the structure of our brains, desensitizing us to sexual stimuli and making it unlikely that we’ll be aroused by anything other than porn. This can put you at risk of serious sexual health concerns such as erectile dysfunction and performance anxiety.

3. Men feel unnecessary emotional distress

While societies attitudes toward masturbation are slowly shifting (particularly for men), those who do wax the carrot often end up feeling embarrassed, guilty or ashamed from participating in this natural and healthy process. Women who masturbate are potentially at an even greater risk of feeling shame, given the taboo that surrounds female masturbation in particular!

Apart from being unpleasant, these sorts of emotions can cause unnecessary harm. One study, for example, found that men who felt guilty about solo sex experienced higher levels of general distress, anxiety, depression, alcohol use, relationship problems and general sexual problems! However, this unnecessary guilt can be avoided if we’re able to speak openly and normalize this ordinary aspect of our sexuality!

4. Masturbation is healthy

Despite what 20th century doctors – and perhaps your grandmother – have been saying: masturbation won’t make you go blind, become impotent or grow hair on your hands. Quite the opposite, doctors today will tell you that masturbation, especially when done correctly, is healthy!

The benefits are extensive: masturbating can lower your risk of prostate cancer and may improve your immune system; it creates a cocktail of feel-good chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin and also lowers your levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) which can protect from you from other stress-related illnesses. One study even suggests that masturbating more primes your body and mind for intercourse, meaning that you’re likely to have more sex; and if you know how to masturbate correctly you can program your brain and body to last longer in bed!

In my own therapy room, clients usually become visibly uncomfortable when we start talking about masturbation! Ironically, it’s once they start opening up about this important aspect of their sexual and psychological health that they truly stand to gain from what sex therapy can offer.

As a society, we have come a long way since repressive, Victorian times. Nonetheless, we still have a long way to go. We need to start combatting the taboo and stigma that accompanies discussions of masturbation, so that those engaging in it (i.e. everyone) can make sure that they’re accessing the multiple health benefits on offer!

Daniel Sher is a registered clinical psychologist. He serves as a professional consultant for the Between Us Clinic, which provides sex-therapy online programs.

https://www.menshealth.com.au/incorrect-masturbation-habits-are-linked-to-sexual-dysfunction?category=Sex

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