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Masturbation

Masturbation (Male)

Introduction

Masturbation is the act of stimulating one’s genitals using own hands, daily use objects, sex toys or by engaging in rigorous contact with a particular surface. Men and women both are known to engage in the act of masturbation with some regularity to achieve sexual pleasure and release. In men, masturbation is almost inevitably followed by ejaculation. Masturbation is a substitute to penetrative sex and most men start participating in this activity as early as the onset of puberty. The frequency of masturbation can vary from person to person and depends significantly on mental and physical factors. While in ancient times, masturbation was considered to be a healthy and normal sexual practice, in 18th century the religious opinions changes about the act. Spiritual degeneration is often associated with masturbation and there is an undeniable stigma attached to the practice.

The technique

Male masturbation is usually performed by wrapping the erect penis in a loose fist and moving the fist up and down the length of the penis, until orgasm is achieved. However, it may vary to some extent in circumcised and non-circumcised men. In non-circumcised men, the foreskin is quite long and can be moved over the glans in a sliding action. The outer foreskin slides over the inner foreskin and stimulates the glans and surrounding blood vessels. In circumcised men, as the foreskin is missing, rubbing or jerking the penis with bare hands can prove to be quite uncomfortable and not achieve any sexual release. Therefore, artificial lubricants or saliva is used by circumcised men to masturbate. The up-and-down motion of fist over penis remains same. At times, masturbation can also be done using just the fore-finger and thumb encircled around the penis.

Sexual stimulation via masturbation can also be enhanced by stimulating prostate gland, which is a major contributor to the ejaculate. This stimulation can be achieved by either inserting a dildo or a lubricated finger up the anus into the rectum. It is known to enhance the orgasm during masturbation. Some men also use vibrators and sex toys to further the sexual pleasure experienced in masturbation. While masturbation is mostly an individual concept and administered personally on one’s own genitals; couple and group masturbation also exists and is widely prevalent.

Myths and Misconceptions

Despite the normal nature of the act, masturbation is heavily stigmatized and has many myths surrounding it. Some of the common myths and misconceptions linked with masturbation can be easily dispelled by actual medical facts –

  • Masturbation can lead to impotence: Masturbation is actually a way of flushing out the old semen from the urethra and increasing the potency of fresh semen; is masturbation is followed by intercourse.
  • Masturbation is a result of mental disorder: Masturbation is a physical phenomenon wherein blood flow increases to the genitals upon manual stimulation and is followed by sexual release due to sensory activation. It is mostly motivated by hormonal activity in the body and often adopted by men as a mode of relieving stress. Linkage of masturbation with mental disorders can only be symptomatic and not a disease in itself.
  • Masturbation is an indicator of bad relationship: Men engage in masturbation as a way of relieving anxiety or simply to go to sleep. Even men in healthy relationships, getting plenty of sex, engage in masturbation from time to time. It is not an indicator of failings in a relationship; instead it is a personal activity which sometimes men tend to continue while being part of a great relationship.
  • Excessive masturbation can cause ghastly acne: Acne and related problems are caused due to androgen imbalance in the body. Masturbation cannot cause skin disfigurements and acne.

Risk factors and solutions

Although men start engaging in masturbation at a very early age and rarely face any complications related to it, there may be some risk factors associated with it. In case of mutual couple masturbation, the chances of pregnancy can be there if the semen comes in contact with the vulva. Also, with frequent masturbation, irritation, itchiness, soreness and chaffing can be experienced on the penis. If the friction during masturbation is too high, then tearing of foreskin can also happen. This has to be medically treated and can deform the penis severely. Also if men start preferring masturbation over intercourse, despite being in a healthy relationship; it is advisable to seek professional help and consult a sex-specialist or marriage counselor. Compulsive masturbation is also a potential risk in many healthy adults. But it is not a disorder in itself; instead it is a symptom of underlying psychological disorders. It can only be corrected by cognitive behavioral therapy and behavioral reconditioning.