Is Masturbation Harmful? – What You Should Know

  • Author: Sumit
  • Published: December 21, 2022
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What is Masturbation

Masturbation is when individuals achieve sexual arousal and pleasure by self-stimulating the genitals. It involves using hands or fingers to massage, stroke, or touch yourself sexually. The action may or may not lead to an orgasm.

In addition to feeling pleasure, masturbation is a natural way to explore your body for healthy sexual development. It is also an ideal way to alleviate the sexual tension which builds up after a long time. This is so, especially for people who pleasure sexual activity and feel the need for it without having a partner.

While masturbation is a normal part of growth, several people continue to masturbate when they become adults. It occurs among people of all races, backgrounds, and genders.

In a national study, more than 73.8% of men and 48.1% of women reported having masturbated by 17 years. It happens that masturbation is the first sexual act experienced by most males and females.

Yet, people masturbate due to:

Now that you know what masturbation is, below is a breakdown of potential benefits, side effects, myths, and more.

Benefits of Masturbation

Masturbating is a sexual activity that helps in reducing stress and giving pleasure and satisfaction. The act can benefit your physical and mental health. Besides, people who masturbate regularly have proven to be healthy with better sex lives.

Various research and anecdotal reports reveal several benefits of masturbation. The benefits of sexual stimulation through masturbation include:

  • People who masturbate release endorphins, oxytocin, and dopamine. These hormones help relax, reduce stress, and boost a person’s mood.
  • Masturbation triggers a positive feeling, making you feel pleasure and releasing sexual tension.
  • You become more familiar with your body, improving your sexual relationship with your partner.
  • Masturbation also helps couples to enhance their foreplay experience with each other.
  • Many people can easily fall asleep after masturbation. The reason is that your body releases neurochemicals such as oxytocin and endorphins that keep you so relaxed.
  • In addition to high self-esteem, masturbating can boost your libido and give you a healthy sex drive.
  • Some people may use toys such as vibrators for more arousal and excitement. This can also help determine if an object is more pleasurable and exciting.
  • Masturbation can help prevent erectile dysfunction by exercising the pelvic floor muscles.
  • The other advantage of masturbation is the elevation of focus and concentration. As a result, some people prefer to masturbate to get a sense of clarity before studying or working.

According to a sexual education program by UNESCO, masturbation can help decrease rape cases in the country. Those who masturbate report experiencing the satisfaction in their sexual desires. Sexual activity is a natural phenomenon for human beings; thus, masturbation is a good solution for those who do not have sexual partners.

Side Effects of Masturbation

Recent studies have confirmed that one can then face some side effects of masturbation if the person masturbates more than 21 times a month. While there are benefits, some people see it as against their belief system or might dislike the feeling.

Masturbation is a healthy practice in moderation. But excessive masturbation or applying specific stimulation techniques may result in negative consequences. These can cause problems like performance dissatisfaction, delayed performance, and reduced sexual desire.

Some people may also experience tender or chafing skin if they are too rough, although this will eventually heal in a couple of days.

There are six common side effects of masturbation. These include addiction, guilt, low self-esteem, social distancing, low sperm count, and premature ejaculation. Here is a detailed explanation of these outlined problems.


People who masturbate more than once a day usually develop an emotional, physiological, and psychological dependence on self-gratification. Such people can no longer suppress their urges to masturbate and would end up with a masturbation addiction. Several professionals term this as compulsive masturbation and fall under sexual addiction.

Masturbation addiction is not diagnosable in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It, however, can significantly impact your daily life. The problems might include:

  • Cancel plans with friends or family
  • Waste a lot of time and energy
  • Miss work, school, or social events
  • Affect your romantic relationship and responsibilities
  • Skip chores or daily activities
  • Finding it difficult to stop thinking about masturbation
  • Engaging in masturbation when in public places
  • Masturbating to cope with negative emotions
  • Masturbating when not aroused or sexual

It is best to know that normal masturbation varies by person, and frequent daily masturbation by itself indicates a problem. Although chronic masturbation is treatable, many people find it hard to seek treatment. That is due to personal shame and social stigma.


Pleasuring oneself may lead to shame or feelings of embarrassment. Despite being normal, most cultures prohibit masturbation and consider it immoral. Moreover, some religious or personal observations believe masturbation to be taboo.

So people end up worrying that masturbation conflicts with their beliefs and thus end up experiencing guilt.

Recently, Italian researchers found that men who masturbate are likely to experience guilt. However, masturbation is not immoral or wrong and thus should not be shameful. If you feel guilty, you can discuss your feelings with a friend or therapist specializing in sexual health.

Low Self Esteem

Masturbating can relax you for a while but creates a negative stigma in the long term. Whenever you masturbate, your brain receives a large but short burst of dopamine as you orgasm. With time, you become desensitized to the small pleasures in life, and your brain gets used to receiving this significant Dopamine fix.

When you do not get the dopamine, your brain activity gets significantly affected. The negative effect on your brain consequently affects your day-to-day behavior. So whenever the dopamine level goes down, you begin experiencing low self-esteem or depression. You end up losing confidence and always feel nervous around people.

Social Distancing

According to a psychological study, one of the reasons people boycott social events is to stay home and masturbate. This constant flakiness makes you find excuses to avoid any occasion of public meetings.

People who masturbate excessively prefer staying at home rather than going out with friends and family. This leads to social isolation, and such individuals spend much time alone with minimal contact with others. As a result, they lack emotional support or interaction and can get detached from their feelings.

Low Sperm Count

Masturbating can be a healthy habit if done a few times a month. Healthy men can maintain average sperm concentrations and motility even with daily ejaculation.

However, it takes up to 3 months for sperm production. If a man ejaculates multiple times a day, the sperm count is lower than a man who does not masturbate more than once a day. Also, the body’s capacity to build testosterone gets hampered when men are in an excessive habit of masturbating.

Premature Ejaculation

Excessive and rapid climax during masturbation may be an issue for some people. It may damage the nerves that allow for ejaculation, leading to premature ejaculation.

According to research, 1 out of 3 men complain about ejaculating sooner than anticipated. The condition makes a person distressed and frustrated, and such people tend to avoid sexual intimacy. However, premature ejaculation does not happen often, and, in most cases, it is treatable.

Masturbation and Anxiety

Masturbation is a common, pleasurable sexual act that is safe and offers several health benefits. Although people believe it causes anxiety, this is not the case. Masturbation does not contribute to a person’s anxiety.

People masturbate as a way of relieving tension and easing anxiety, according to one study. When you masturbate, your body releases oxytocin, endorphins, and prolactin. These hormones help lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels, thus causing your body to relax.

But, almost all religions and cultures prohibit masturbation, considering it a social taboo. The prohibition leads to many cultural beliefs that may influence the sexual behavior of an individual. As a result, some people who masturbate have feelings of anxiety, which is clinically understood as masturbatory guilt.

If you experience masturbation anxiety, these tips may help you have positive experiences:

Relax your body and view the act as a natural and healthy activity.

  • Research on masturbation normality and build greater understanding to help ease your anxiety.
  • Introduce masturbation as part of foreplay with your partner to get you comfortable.
  • Seek validation from a therapist or doctor.

Myths About Masturbation

While masturbation is a natural sexual practice, many religious texts regard the practice as immoral. The beliefs have led to stigma and misinformation around masturbation.

Many myths and misconceptions exist around masturbation. However, studies have not found any substantial link between these myths and masturbation.

Here are some of the most common misconceptions about masturbation:

  • Some people believe that masturbation indicates that a partner is experiencing sexual dissatisfaction.
  • Masturbation causes performance problems.
  • Masturbation is not a normal part of sexual development.
  • Romantic couples do not masturbate; otherwise, it can negatively impact your relationship.
  • Doing it excessively can lead to erectile dysfunction.
  • Masturbation will make you go blind.
  • There are no health benefits of masturbation.
  • People who engage in it are perverts.
  • It makes you prone to cheating.
  • ​Masturbation shrinks your genitals.
  • It causes infertility and mental issues.
  • The act makes you thinner.
  • Once you start masturbating, you will become addicted to it.

Is Masturbating every day bad for your health?

According to the International Society for Sexual Medicine, no “normal” masturbation frequency exists. Practicing it daily or more than once a day is safe and healthy. It can help you release sexual tension, understand your body better, reduce stress, and make you relaxed.

While some people masturbate daily, others do it once a week, a month, and some never self-stimulate. Masturbating daily is not bad for your health, as long as it does not negatively affect your daily life, activities, and overall energy levels.

Though, some sex experts consider masturbating more than once a day to be excessive. This can cause dependence, fatigue, premature ejaculation, low sperm count, and fatigue. Consider talking to a counselor or therapist if it becomes a problem.

Masturbation and Prostate Cancer

Some researchers imply that regular ejaculation may lower the risk of prostate cancer. For men, toxins build up naturally in the urogenital tract, thus increasing the chances of prostate cancer. A 2003 study demonstrates that men can decrease these toxin levels if they ejaculate over five times per week.

A similar study between a lower risk of prostate cancer and frequent ejaculation suggests the same. Men who had a lower prostate cancer risk ejaculated 21 times per month or more.

However, researchers are still studying the relationship between these two factor.

The age range emerged as a significant variable in evidence for prostate cancer risk and masturbation. A 2008 study indicates that sexual activity and frequent masturbation during a man’s 20s and 30s increased his prostate cancer risk.

The theory around regular ejaculation protecting against prostate cancer remains controversial. Despite strong evidence, more research is still needed.

Masturbation and sexual sensitivity

Enhanced stimulation by masturbation can heighten sexual desire and sensitivity. According to 2018 published Sexual and Relationship Therapy journal, self-stimulating using a vibrator proved beneficial in treating ejaculatory or erectile dysfunction. In women, it can help in treating a condition called anorgasmia.

On the contrary, aggressive and habitual masturbation practices may decrease penile sensitivity. A study found that men with decreased sensation in their penile shaft reported a higher frequency of masturbation. Such men suffered from erectile dysfunction or delayed ejaculation.

People with a penis who masturbate excessively would use a tight grip or vigorous techniques to feel pleasure. This is known as the death grip syndrome and often leads to a lack of feeling in the penis or could make it feel “numb.”

The lack of sensitivity leads to an inability to get a firm erection, reach an orgasm, or feel disinterest in sex. Or you can get hard, but touching your penis would not cause intense sensations as on regular days.

A tight grip desensitizes the nerves, so be gentle during masturbation to restore sensitivity levels during sex.

Is Masturbation Considered Normal?

Experts agree that masturbation is a completely normal and healthy sexual practice. The practice is a good way to experience self-sexual satisfaction and is applicable throughout life.

A 2010 survey on sexual behaviors in a small group of young and older people depicts that about 20% of the individuals masturbated two to three times each week. Some masturbated a few times per month to weekly, while less than 20% masturbated more than four times a week.

Masturbation probably has a stigma because it is a private sexual behavior. On the other hand, one may decide to abstain from masturbation due to cultural, religious, or personal views.

Is Masturbation Harmful?

Masturbation is generally a safe expression of sexuality for all genders. The practice has no harmful physical or emotional effects. Experts suggest that masturbation can improve relationships and sexual health. It alleviates stress, offers no risk of getting pregnant or contracting STDs, and even helps ease period cramps.

Anyone can masturbate, but some think it is bad for moral reasons. Some cultures and religions also oppose masturbation or even label it as sinful. This can lead to individual guilt or shame about the behavior.

However, if you do it excessively and aggressively, then it can be harmful. Some masturbation techniques may cause a lack of sensitivity, low sperm count, and erectile dysfunction.


Masturbation is a normal, healthy, and safe way of self-gratification. It is also a natural way to feel pleasure, relieve sexual tension, and explore your body for sexual development. The practice has many benefits for your mind and body with no harmful side effects.

It would help if you enjoyed self-pleasure without feeling guilty, ashamed, or embarrassed. And if it causes you anxiety, consider talking with a therapist or healthcare provider about your feelings.

Masturbation is usually a problem if it gets in the way of daily life, responsibilities, and relationships. It may be time to cut down on the act if it gets to this point.

How to Overcome Masturbation Addiction

Masturbation can become a problem if it interferes negatively with an individual’s life. If you worry about masturbating too much, you may want to use effective ways to help overcome your masturbation urges. More healthy ways include:

  • Staying away from sexual content since exposure to pornography may trigger the desire to masturbate.
  • Spend more time with friends and family.
  • Stay active and find ways that do not trigger the desire to masturbate to occupy your time. This might include learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby.
  • Try to sleep on time and reduce your internet consumption.
  • Find a trusted support group.
  • Exercise, do yoga, and meditate.

If the tendency persists, you may want to consult a doctor, counselor, or psychiatrist, as it can also be related to mental stress.

Bottom Line

Masturbating is a natural practice for men and women in all societies. It is not harmful, so listen to your body and self-stimulate if necessary. If your view is that masturbation is quite different, thus making you not want to do it, then that too is okay. Your feelings will determine every bit of it. All in all, do what is in your best interest.

Sumit is a chemical engineer and a motivational speaker. He is a regular contributor to


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