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Most people at least experiment with masturbation, at some point in their lives. Herbenick, D et al found, in 2010, that though masturbation rates vary according to age group, no less than 42.3 percent of males between the ages of 14 and 69 say that they did it at least once over the past month. Females have lower rates, but they still don't dip below 21.5 percent for the same age group.

Masturbation is still somewhat of a taboo topic for some reason. Some people have religious objections to the practice, while others are simply "icked out" by the thought of talking about it — even if they engage in self-exploration themselves. Over the centuries, many myths developed surrounding the topic, many of which ultimately lead to "it will shrivel up and die if you do that".

Let's leave those myths behind and explore the reality of masturbation. What are the medical and emotional advantages of masturbation, and what are the disadvantages?

Advantages Of Masturbation

For both men and women, masturbation offers:

  • Stress relief.
  • The ability to explore and get to know their own bodies better, something that can also easily lead to more satisfying sex with a partner.
  • The ability to enjoy sexual pleasure without the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Strong pelvic floor muscles, in turn reducing the risk of urinary incontinence.

For men, regular masturbation has been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, to improve sperm health, and even to reduce nasal congestion! Men who masturbate regularly also last longer, achieve fuller erections, and are less likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction.

Women who masturbate are less likely to suffer from insomnia, and help preserve their cervical health.

Disadvantages Of Masturbation

What are the downsides? First off, being too rough or engaging in self-exploration too often can lead to ecchymosis. This skin condition is caused by bruising, and can be very uncomfortable. If you notice any redness or bruising, lay off it for a while, will you?

Furthermore, it is indeed possible to develop an addictive relationship with masturbation. People who routinely masturbate may find themselves feeling the need to get another "fix" very strongly, and may feel the need to do it more and more often to get the same effect — in turn increasing the risk of skin irritation.

Excessive masturbation, especially with the help of "certain materials", may also make sexual intercourse with a partner less appealing: your partner can never live up to the fantasies you create in your head. When you don't enjoy your sex life, your relationship can of course suffer. Indeed, partners of people who masturbate frequently have commented that this leads to selfish behavior in the bedroom.

Then, if you personally believe that masturbation is wrong for religious reasons, or have otherwise integrated the idea that it is wrong into your way of thinking, you may suffer from feelings of guilt or shame after masturbating, something that is certainly very unpleasant.

Finally, people who use unsafe toys are inviting all kinds of problems, from infections to lacerations.

The Bottom Line

Enjoy masturbation in a safe way and in moderation if you want to, but be careful not to be too rough or to use unsafe aids. If you notice signs that masturbation is interfering with your relationship or that you are becoming dependent on it, take steps to cut back or seek advice from a sex therapist.

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