Is masturbation healthy? It’s honestly a difficult question to answer.
In this article, we’ll break down the pros and cons of masturbation from many angles so you can decide if it’s a beneficial habit for you.
We’ll take a deep dive into what the panel of experts in medicine, modern science, and psychology has to say. In addition to this, there’s information from many addiction experts and anecdotal evidence that’ll help you make a more informed decision.
The ancient wisdom behind practices like semen retention is also worth discussing since it can be a healthy alternative for some.
Ultimately, everyone is different — because of this, each person’s decision will vary based on their environment, experiences, and where they are in life. As such, you’ll need a tailored solution based on your needs.
Maybe it’s beneficial to rephrase the question:
“Will giving up masturbation benefit my life?”
We’re glad you asked. Buckle up, because we’re about to equip you with all the info you need to answer this question.
What Is Masturbation
“Masturbation is the act of touching your own genitals for sexual stimulation.”
Many online sources say it’s perfectly normal and even healthy, but it’s far from healthy in today’s age of pornography.
To help illustrate this, consider the following:
Masturbation is the smoking of our generation.
What was once seen as a healthy activity, is known today to be a cancerous, destructive habit. But were cigarettes always bad for you? Or did they start becoming bad when science proved it?
The answer is obvious here. Cigarettes have always been terrible for your health. We’ve just taken a long time to realize it.
In 1964, U.S Surgeon General Luther Terry concluded that cigarettes were linked to lung cancer.
But the cigarette companies didn’t go down without a fight. They had a product to sell. Anything standing in their way had to be eliminated. Long story short, over the decades, smoking was clearly recognized as unhealthy. Even by die-hard skeptics.
PMO (Porn, masturbation, orgasm) isn’t too different. The porn industry has a product to sell. Sure, we can argue that porn is free — but not quite. The cost is your health, vitality, and time. In essence, your life. Attention is the new currency, and they want you hooked on their product.
Of course, everything said above is assuming porn use is accompanied by masturbation (which is usually the case). Masturbation without porn isn’t the worst thing in the world. The real damage happens when porn is involved. The supernormal stimulus desensitizes your brain and makes it difficult to achieve arousal in normal circumstances.
If you look for tailored evidence that masturbation is healthy, you’re sure to find it. Just don’t let it delude you into thinking PMO is healthy. These sources often place masturbation in a vacuum, assuming that it isn’t accompanied by copious amounts of porn use.
Too Much Masturbation Is a Bad Thing
You’re probably thinking, “duh, too much of anything is a bad thing”.
Exactly how much do I need to masturbate before it becomes “too much”?
A common argument users outside of the NoFap community will make is that “masturbation is healthy”… when done in moderation. And the only thing bad about masturbation is “too much”. While this may be the case, think of other addictions like alcohol or hard drugs.
When someone is trying to free themselves of these destructive addictions, they’re not allowed “just one glass” or “just one line” of cocaine — so why would a PMO addict be allowed one session?
Moreover, the majority of users are addicted, but they don’t actually know it.
Addiction by definition is “a chronic dysfunction of the brain system that involves reward, motivation, and memory.”
In simpler terms, your body is craving a certain behavior (PMO) — and it causes you to seek the reward of orgasm while ignoring any consequences.
In answering the question, “how much is too much?” — the real answer is that it varies from person to person. If we liken PMO to poison, a little bit of poison does harm, even if we can tolerate it. So why drink poison in the first place?
Side Effects of Masturbation
To build on the analogy of PMO as poison: It’s a poison that’s sweet but leaves bitter side effects. It drains the user, while at the same time making them thirsty for more.
The sweetness actually comes from recognizable benefits. It releases endorphins and calms your nerves… but only momentarily. Once the grip of the consequences reaches you, regret quickly sets in.
Guilt and Shame
John Wooden said it best, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”
The guilt users feel after a PMO session is a signal. It’s a warning sign that something is wrong and they need to make a change. It’s similar to stealing candy from a baby. The nagging “this is wrong” feeling is telling you what you did is wrong.
Think for a moment about some of the more extreme genres of porn. Even the actors on screen know they’re doing something wrong — and many don’t enjoy it.
Another sign you’re doing something wrong is that you wouldn’t want an acquaintance to be aware of your porn use. Would you openly want to tell a coworker, friend, or loved one about your porn tastes?
The more you ignore this voice of virtue, the quieter it gets — and the PMO monster takes the driver’s seat.
Decrease in Sexual Sensitivity
This one’s a double whammy.
First, there’s a decrease in physical sensitivity. This mainly applies to people that use aggressive masturbation techniques.
Users with “death grip” (dead vagina syndrome for women) report the inability to become aroused unless they increase their physical stimulation using toys or a tighter grip around the penis. This worsens the problem since it decreases their sensitivity further.
Second, their mental sensitivity diminishes. The regular porn diet consists of a harem of women (and genres) to satisfy the user’s endless thirst. As they climb up the tiers of sensation, they’ll exhaust the desire for many types of porn. And when it finally comes to real sex… flop. They’ll quickly realize their partner can’t fulfill their twisted desires.
This one’s a no-brainer. Lack of control over your sexual desire will bleed into other areas of your life.
Quitting PMO is a game of control. Every element of your life needs to be controlled to maximize your chance of success.
Environment, diet, sleep, exercise, education… the list goes on. If you’re not controlling these factors, the PMO monster will have a clear shot at you. Along with this list comes controlling your desire for instant gratification.
Regular porn use trains your brain to go for the option that gives you immediate pleasure. See that cookie on the table? Go for it. Online shopping? You deserve the splurge. Blaring alarm? Eh, the snooze button’s looking juicy.
See where I’m going here?
Masturbation is the enemy of delayed gratification. The ability to wait for a reward in the future while sacrificing today’s pleasure is an essential skill to your success in life.
Benefits or Myths?
Okay, so we’ve covered quite a few side effects, and we’re about to dive into some of the top myths.
But what about the benefits? To truly find out if masturbation is healthy, we have to look at the benefits.
There are benefits to masturbation, make no mistake. But they often come with a massive opportunity cost.
For example, masturbation is a workout. Do you know what else is a workout? An actual workout. Why risk messing up your brain chemistry when you could improve your reward system by exercising?
Another benefit often cited is that masturbation helps men last longer in bed and increase their libido. The opportunity cost here is the fact that the more you masturbate, the less likely you are to have real sex and make a real connection with another person.
We can even go down the rabbit hole of “you’ll eventually get addicted… which can lead to PIED, canceling any of the sexual benefits”.
What good is lasting longer in bed when you don’t have a partner to enjoy it with? What good is a longer lifespan if it’s not deeply enriched, and surrounded by loved ones? Masturbation is an isolating activity. It’s a positive feedback loop that gets worse the more you indulge.
These “benefits” are often linked to sexual intercourse and orgasm itself without mentioning pornography or masturbation. Pornography in particular is extremely damaging to our brain chemistry.
The truth is, these benefits undoubtedly exist — but we should look towards healthy avenues such as sexual intercourse to seek them.
With that being said, some of these benefits masquerade as myths. Let’s have a look at some popular benemyths (benefits + myths? did we just coin a new word?) surrounding masturbation.
Masturbation Prevents Prostate Cancer
The research on this one is promising — but there’s still a lot of uncharted territory.
First, there’s no determination that more ejaculation is actually the cause of lower prostate cancer rates. More ejaculation could be linked to other factors like healthier habits and diet that are lowering prostate cancer rates.
Ejaculation also doesn’t ward off deadlier types of prostate cancer, and scientists aren’t sure why.
Ejaculation during sex vs. masturbation is also an important factor to consider. The semen found during sex has a higher sperm count and different chemicals. This could be the reason behind lower rates of prostate cancer.
Lastly, some studies varied in age. A few studies found that younger men who masturbated more actually had higher chances of prostate cancer.
Masturbation Boosts Your Mood
Masturbation definitely boosts your mood.
But it boosts your mood in the same way that eating a doughnut would. You’re trading short-term pleasure, for long-term regret. Sure, you deserve a doughnut once in a while, but what if that donut made you addicted to more donuts… and eventually worse donuts that killed your taste buds along with your fitness goals?
Or take the example of “retail therapy” here. Buying a bunch of stuff that you don’t actually need will make you feel great at the moment… but it’ll hurt your bank account. All of a sudden that vacation you were saving up for feels a little less possible this year.
As stated earlier, there are healthier ways to boost your mood without wreaking havoc on your brain chemistry!
Masturbation Will Help You Live Longer
Studies that promote this myth state that “men who have more orgasms over a certain period of time live longer than men who have fewer orgasms.” The key word here is “orgasms”.
But not all orgasms are made equal.
Many studies show that sexual intercourse has loads of benefits for men. From blood pressure to heart health and even prostate health — you would think these benefits would carry over to masturbation, right?
Not exactly. So why is there a difference between ejaculating during sex or without a partner? The truth is… it’s not exactly clear — but our bodies do respond differently in each situation.
When we have a partner present, the makeup of our semen is actually different than if we masturbate. Pretty cool huh?
A longer lifespan may not actually be the result of more ejaculations. Rather, it may be attributed to the act of sex itself. And there’s a lot more going on during sex than just the grand finale.
Semen Retention & Sexual Transmutation
Semen retention is exactly what it sounds like. It involves retaining your semen by not ejaculating. This concept goes hand in hand with sexual transmutation.
During semen retention, it is believed by ancient Taoist philosophy that semen contains a man’s life force. Ejaculation drains that life force. In contrast, any semen retained is reabsorbed into the body.
This excess semen improves the quality of a practitioner’s physical, spiritual and mental health. Benefits include more energy, less anxiety, increased testosterone, and a greater sense of purpose just to name a few.
Semen retention is not to be confused with abstinence. You’re still able to have sex with a partner and orgasm without ejaculation.
Sexual transmutation is the conversion of this extra sexual energy (or life force) into something productive. A popular way to transmute sexual energy includes entering a meditative state to move the energy upward. Once the energy is in motion, you can use this energy towards a higher endeavor.
The two concepts work together — and once porn is out of the equation, semen retention and sexual transmutation become an attractive option for any man trying to live a fuller life.
Are there any good reasons to start NoFap?
Plenty. This is like asking, are there any good reasons to gain back your self-control? Your dignity? Your life? Be warned though. You’ll enjoy benefits like clarity, focus, and improved self-control along with better relationships.
And if you don’t think you’re addicted — we challenge you to try abstaining for 30 days. If you can’t, or find it difficult you should take that as a warning sign. It’s a testament to the fact that you’re actually addicted.
Is there a healthy amount to masturbate?
Let’s play devil’s advocate and entertain this possibility for a second.
Even if there were a healthy amount to masturbate, at the very least you’re bleeding out time — which is arguably the most valuable resource anyone has. If you want to “test” a frequency for a healthy amount to masturbate go ahead, but we’ll warn you now… it’s a slippery slope.
The human condition is a delicate one. Most users will find that even if their frequency isn’t increasing (which is rare), their pornographic tastes will get more extreme.
In answering the question “is masturbation healthy?” The real answer lies in your decision based on your situation and the information you’ve just read.
If you’re an addict, masturbation is unhealthy when you take everything into account. The benefits can be gained elsewhere — and they come at a hefty cost based on the side effects.
If you’re simply looking to let out some steam after a long day, and you’re using your imagination instead of porn, masturbation can be a positive addition to your life.
As you’ve read through the information above, it’d be a good idea during this time to ask yourself,
Why masturbate in the first place?
Is there unresolved trauma you’re looking to heal? Are you lonely? Fixing the root cause of these issues is where you should start.
If you’re working through self-esteem issues and getting to know your body, masturbation can be a stepping stone to help you see yourself in a more positive light. Once you feel more confident in your body image you can stop masturbating.
Oftentimes, masturbation is used as a drug to pacify ourselves from these underlying states. So it doesn’t make sense to continue masturbating if it doesn’t fix the problem.
Alternatively, semen retention and sexual transmutation are far more beneficial than masturbation. Not only can they assist in fixing your underlying state, but they can also give you the motivation to completely overhaul your life.