Masturbation

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This is how Gustav Klimt saw masturbation. This drawing is from 1913

Masturbation is when a person touches his own sex organs to have pleasure. It often results in an orgasm.

Masturbating may be done alone, but can also be done with another person. This is called "mutual masturbation". Vibrators and dildos can be used to make masturbation easier or feel better, but it is often done with just a person's hand. Studies have shown that a large number of people masturbate regularly. Some people do it once or twice a month, while other people do it several times a day.

Female masturbation[change | change source]

The female sex organ most sensitive to touch is the clitoris. Therefore, female masturbation almost always involves stimulating the clitoris, either by hand or with a vibrator. Many women also enjoy the feeling of fingers or a sex toy in the vagina, however this is a secondary sensation that is not necessary for orgasm, and that rarely results in orgasm on its own. Some women find stimulation of the front vaginal wall, or G spot, particularly pleasurable. The anus is rich in nerve endings and is also sometimes stimulated during masturbation, as are the nipples.

Masturbation is usually continued until orgasm. Some women may have problems reaching an orgasm, especially when they are young, and have little experience masturbating. When this happens, more practice and a reliable vibrator with strong vibration can help a great deal.

Some women experience "multiple orgasms" - several orgasms in a row without loss of arousal. It should be noted, however, that women who are not capable of multiple orgasms report as much orgasmic satisfaction as women who are multi-orgasmic.

Male masturbation[change | change source]

Masturbation for males is the act of stimulating the penis manually to provide self-pleasure. For older teens and adults, masturbation usually ends in what is called an ejaculation (the release of liquid called semen which contains sperm cells). This ejaculation is usually accompanied by a powerful, pleasurable feeling called an orgasm. Most boys start masturbating between the age of 12 and 15. There are many ways in which a male can choose to masturbate. The most common of these techniques is the fist. Fisting is very easy to do. You simply wrap your hand around the shaft of your penis and move your hand up and down.[1]

Usually the man will hold the penis (in erection) in his hand and move the hand up and down. Sometimes a lubricant is used to create a softer sensation. As the sensation increases in intensity, the rate of hand movement generally quickens until orgasm occurs. Orgasm is a very pleasurable feeling which results in semen being ejaculated from the penis. Men may also rub and touch other sensitive areas of the body such as the scrotum (the place where the testicles are located), the nipples, and the anus. The anus is rich in nerve endings and is sometimes stimulated during masturbation.

Masturbation frequency, age and sex[change | change source]

People may not masturbate on any given day. Some people masturbate every day, sometimes even multiple times a day. How often someone masturbates, or the frequency of masturbation, depends on many things. One of the things that the frequency of masturbation depends on are hormones. Sexual arousal depends on hormones. Other things that the frequency of masturbation depend on are sexual habits. Sexual habits are sexual activities that people do because they are used to doing them. Other people of the same age or standing - called peers - can also influence this frequency. General health is another of the many factors.[2] The general attitude towards masturbation is formed by culture.[3] Medical causes have also been associated with masturbation.[4][5][6]

"Forty-eight female college students were asked to complete a sexual attitudes questionnaire in which a frequency of masturbation scale was embedded. Twenty-four of the women (the experimental group) then individually viewed an explicit modeling film involving female masturbation. One month later, all subjects again completed the same questionnaire. Subjects in the experimental group also completed a questionnaire evaluating aspects of the film. Results indicated that the experimental group reported a significant increase in the average monthly frequency of masturbation, as compared to the control group. This same group, however, reported that the film had no effect on sexual attitudes or behavior."

A 2004 survey by Toronto magazine NOW was answered by an unspecified number of thousands.[7] The results show that an overwhelming majority of the males — 81% — began masturbating between the ages of 10 and 15. Among females, the same figure was a more modest majority of 55%. (Note that surveys on sexual practices are prone to self-selection bias.) It is not uncommon however to begin much earlier, and this is more frequent among females: 18% had begun by the time they turned 10, and 6% already by the time they turned 6. Being the main outlet of child sexuality, masturbation has been observed in very young children. In the book Human Sexuality: Diversity in Contemporary America, by Strong, Devault and Sayad, the authors point out, "A baby boy may laugh in his crib while playing with his erect penis (although he does not ejaculate). Baby girls sometimes move their bodies rhythmically, almost violently, appearing to experience orgasm."

According to a Canadian survey of Now magazine readers, (cited above), the frequency of masturbation declines after the age of 17. However, most males masturbate daily, or even more frequently, well into their 20s and sometimes far beyond. This decline is more drastic among females, and more gradual among males. While females aged 13–17 masturbated almost once a day on average (and almost as often as their male peers), adult women only masturbated 8–9 times a month, compared to the 18–22 among men. It is also apparent that masturbation frequency declines with age. Adolescent youths report being able to masturbate to ejaculation six or more times per day, though some men in older middle age report being hard pressed to ejaculate even once per day. The survey does not give a full demographic breakdown of respondents, however, and the sexual history of respondents to this poll, who are readers of an urban Toronto lifestyle magazine, may not extend to the general population.

It appears that females are less likely to masturbate while in a heterosexual relationship than men. Both sexes occasionally engage in this activity, however, even when in sexually active relationships. Popular belief asserts that individuals of either sex who are not in sexually active relationships tend to masturbate more frequently than those who are; however, much of the time this is not true as masturbation alone or with a partner is often a feature of a relationship. Contrary to conventional wisdom, several studies actually reveal a positive correlation between the frequency of masturbation and the frequency of intercourse as well as the number multiple sex partners. One study reported a significantly higher rate of masturbation in gay men and women who were in a relationship.[8][9][10][11]

Cultural views and practices[change | change source]

The Catholic church regards masturbation as a 'gravely disordered action' (Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2352). Among men masturbation is often seen as a sign of weakness, and many slang terms for it are used as insults.[1]

The Sambia tribe of New Guinea has rites of passage surrounding manhood which involve frequent ejaculation through fellatio. Semen is valued and masturbation is seen as a waste of semen and is therefore frowned upon even though frequent ejaculation is encouraged. The capacity and need to ejaculate is nurtured for years from an early age through fellatio so that it can be consumed rather than wasted. Semen is ingested for strength and is considered in the same line as mothers' milk.[12][source?]

Other cultures have rites of passage into manhood that culminate in the first ejaculation of a male, usually by the hands of a tribal elder. In some tribes such as the Agta, Philippines, stimulation of the genitals is encouraged from an early age.[13] Upon puberty, the young male is then paired off with a "wise elder" or "witch doctor" who uses masturbation to build his ability to ejaculate in preparation for a ceremony. The ceremony culminates in a public ejaculation before a celebration. The ejaculate is saved in a wad of animal skin and worn later to help conceive children. In this and other tribes, the measure of manhood is actually associated more with the amount of ejaculate and his need than penis size. Frequent ejaculation through masturbation from an early age fosters frequent ejaculation well into adulthood.[14]

Masturbation marathons are yearly events and are occurring across the globe from the U.S. to the UK. These events provide a supportive environment where masturbation can be performed openly among young and old without embarrassment. Participants talk openly with onlookers while masturbating to share techniques and describe their pleasure.[15][16]

Function[change | change source]

Masturbation may increase fertility during sexual intercourse. In females, it can regulate the conditions of the vagina, cervix and the uterus. This can either increase or decrease the chance of conception. Whether the chance is increased or decreased depends on the timing of the masturbation. This timing is a subconscious decision. If she has intercourse with more than one male, it favors the chances of one or the other male's sperm reaching her egg.[17][18]

Female masturbation can also protect against cervical infections. It does this by increasing the acidity of the cervical mucus and by moving debris out of the cervix.

The function of masturbation in males is to flush out old sperm with low motility from the male's genital tract. The next ejaculate contains more fresh sperm, which has higher chances of achieving conception during intercourse. If more than one male is having intercourse with a female, the sperm with the highest motility will compete more effectively.[19][20][21]

Health and psychological effects[change | change source]

Benefits[change | change source]

The physical benefits of masturbation and having an orgasm or ejaculating creates heightened arousal while epinephrine courses through your body, producing the flushed face, shallow breath and post-climactic euphoria.[22]

It is held in many mental health circles that masturbation can relieve depression, stress and lead to a higher sense of self-worth (Hurlbert & Whittaker, 1991). Masturbation can also be particularly useful in relationships where one partner wants more sex than the other — in which case masturbation provides a balancing effect and thus a more harmonious relationship.[22]

Mutual masturbation, the act by which two or more partners stimulate themselves in the presence of each other, allows a couple to reveal the map to their pleasure centers. Witnessing a partner masturbate is a educational activity to find out the method a partner pleases them selfs, allowing each partner to learn exactly how the other enjoys being touched".[22]

In 2003, an Australian research team led by Graham Giles of The Cancer Council Australia[23] concluded that frequent masturbation by males appears to help prevent the development of prostate cancer. The study also indicated that this would be more helpful than ejaculation through sexual intercourse because intercourse can transmit diseases that may increase the risk of cancer instead. Also, frequent, strong ejaculations are more easily attained over time with the aid of masturbation.

A study published in 1997 found an inverse association between death from coronary heart disease and frequency of orgasm even given the risk that myocardial ischaemia and myocardial infarction can be triggered by sexual activity. Excerpt, "The association between frequency or orgasm and all cause mortality was also examined using the midpoint of each response category recoded as number of orgasms per year. The age adjusted odds ratio for an increase of 100 orgasms per year was 0.64 (0.44 to 0.95)." That is, a difference between any two subjects appeared when one subject ejaculated at around two or more times per week than the other. Assuming a broad range average of between 3-5 ejaculations per week for a healthy males, this would mean 5 to 7 ejaculations per week. This is consistent with a 2003 Australia article on the benefits against prostate cancer [24] Some people actually use masturbation as part of their cardiovascular workout and for stress relief [25]

Masturbation is also seen as a sexual technique that protects individuals from the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Support for such a view, and for making it part of the American sex education curriculum, led to the dismissal of US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders during the Clinton administration. A 2011 study from the Indiana University supports the assertion. After taking age and partner status into account, the study showed that sexually active boys who masturbated regularly were eight times more likely to have used a condom during their last intercourse than other boys.[26] This positive outcome has been observed in other studies and has been the basis of public health policy in Great Britain promoting masturbation.

Some people actually consider masturbation as a cardiovascular workout.[27] And while doctors have no proof of this actually being true, those suffering from cardiovascular disorders (particularly those recovering from myocardial infarction, or heart attacks) should resume physical activity (including sexual intercourse and masturbation) gradually and with the frequency and rigor which their physical status will allow. Some doctors will advise those recovering from heart attacks to abstain from sexual activity (solitary or with a partner) until one is able to climb two flights of stairs without experiencing shortness of breath or chest pain.[source?] This limitation can serve as encouragement to follow through with physical therapy sessions to help improve endurance.

Masturbation makes most people feel good and can sometimes replace sexual intercourse when one cannot find a partner. It can also prepare one for sexual intercourse.

Blood pressure[change | change source]

A small study has shown that a test group which only had intercourse experienced, as a whole, lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those who had intercourse but also had masturbated for one or more days.[28]

Insertion[change | change source]

Objects inserted into the vagina or anus should be clean and should not be able to scratch or break. Care should be taken not to fully insert anything into the anus — any object used should have a flared or flanged base; otherwise getting it out may need medical help. Modern dildos and anal plugs are designed with this feature.

Pregnancy[change | change source]

Masturbation involving both a man and a woman (see mutual masturbation) can result in pregnancy only if semen contacts the vulva. Masturbation with a partner can also theoretically result in transmission of sexually transmitted diseases by contact with bodily fluids.

Problems for males[change | change source]

A man whose penis has suffered a blunt trauma or injury during intercourse may rarely sustain a penile fracture[29] or suffer from Peyronie's disease.[30] Phimosis is "a contracted foreskin (that) may cause trouble by hurting when an attempt is made to pull the foreskin back".[31] In these cases, any energetic manipulation of the penis can be problematic.

Lawrence I. Sank[32] observed that masturbating prone (lying face downward) could be responsible for sexual problems in some men including anorgasmia and erectile dysfunction, as observed in four men he examined. He coined the term traumatic masturbatory syndrome to describe this theory. As of 2007, no follow-up research has been conducted and the idea is not familiar or widely-held within the medical community. Some sources, however, give credence to the idea. One sex therapist[33] condemned masturbation by rubbing against a pillow or mattress and Lipsith et al.[34] suggest that masturbation could play a part in male psychogenic sexual dysfunction (MPSD), citing Sank as their authority. MPSD is a difficulty in reaching orgasm during intercourse, and developing a dependence on masturbation.

Compulsive masturbation[change | change source]

Masturbating frequently presents no physical, mental or emotional risk in itself,[35] but masturbation can be used to relieve boredom or stress. In either case, as with any "nervous habit", it is more helpful to consider the causes of the boredom or of the stress, rather than try to repress the behavior itself, in this case masturbation.[36]

There is some discussion between professionals and other interested parties as to the existence or validity of sexual addictions. Nevertheless, there are lists of warning signs such as when sexual activity affects a person's ability to function in everyday life, or is placing them at risk, for example, of pursuing illegal or destructive activities. Very frequent and compulsive masturbation may be seen as a sign of sexual addiction.[37]

Philosophical arguments[change | change source]

Immanuel Kant considered masturbation a violation of one's duty to one's self and an unnatural act stating it was a posteriori against natural law. In the Metaphysics of Morals, he said that 'such an unnatural use of one's sexual attributes' strikes 'everyone upon his thinking of it' as 'a violation of one's duty to himself'.[38] Sigmund Freud regarded masturbation as likely to cause disease. He also called it the "primal addiction" in a letter to Fliess, saying tobacco smoking and other addictions were merely substitutes for it.[39] Margaret Sanger frequently stated that masturbation was unwise and dangerous.

References[change | change source]

  1. The Full Fist Grip - Masturbation Techniques
  2. Physiology & Behavior, 2005 Oct 15; Vol. 86 (3), pp. 356-68.
  3. E. Heiby and J. Becker examined the latter
  4. "Bladder calculus presenting as excessive masturbation." Ceylon Med. J. 2006 Sept., 51(3):121-2.
  5. "Excessive masturbation after epilepsy surgery." Epilepsy Behav. 2004 Feb., 5(1):133-6.
  6. "Severe impulsiveness as the primary manifestation of multiple sclerosis in a young female." Psychiatry Clin. Neurosci. 2005 Dec., 59(6):739-42.
  7. NOW's Love and Sex Guide 2004
  8. Sexual practices in youth: analysis of lifetime sexual trajectory and last sexual intercourse. Cad Saude Publica. 2006 Jul;22(7):1471-81. Epub 2006 Jun 14.
  9. Prevalence of Masturbation and Associated Factors in a British National Probability Survey. Arch Sex Behav. 2007 Feb 27.
  10. Increased libido associated with quetiapine. J Psychopharmacol. 2006 Jan;20(1):125-7.
  11. Sexual behavior in lesbian and heterosexual women: relations with menstrual cycle phase and partner availability. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2002 May;27(4):489-503.
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  13. Cited by Hewlett, B. S. (1996) Diverse contexts of human infancy, in Ember, C. & Ember, M. (Eds.) Cross-Cultural Research for Social Science. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall
  14. The clinical outcome of childhood masturbation. Turk J Pediatr. 2000 Oct-Dec; 42(4):304-7.
  15. Masturbate-a-thon by The Center For Sex & Culture
  16. viewlondon.co.uk article on Masturbation Marathon London
  17. Baker, Robin (1996). Sperm wars: the science of sex. Diane Books. ISBN 978-0-7881-6004-2 .
  18. Baker, Robin R.; Bellis, Mark A. (1993). "Human sperm competition: ejaculate manipulation by females and a function for the female orgasm". Animal Behaviour 46 (5): p887, 23p. http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=3768816.
  19. Thomsen, Ruth (2000). "Sperm competition and the function of masturbation in Japanese macaques". Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.
  20. Baker, Robin R.; Bellis, Mark A. (1993). "Human sperm competition: Ejaculate adjustment by males and the function of masturbation.". Animal Behaviour 46 (5): p861, 25p. http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=3768815.
  21. Shackelford, Todd K.; Goetz, Aaron T. (2007). "Adaptation to Sperm Competition in Humans.". Current Directions in Psychological Science 16 (1): p47-50. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-8721.2007.00473.x.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Masturbation key to healthy, functional sexual relationships, April 19, http://badgerherald.com/oped/2007/04/19/masturbation_key_to_.php, retrieved July 2007 Archived 23 August 2011 at WebCite
  23. Sexual factors and prostate cancer
  24. Sex and death: are they related? Findings from the Caerphilly cohort study, December 20, http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/315/7123/1641, retrieved July 2007
  25. .
  26. "Prevalence, Frequency, and Associations of Masturbation With Partnered Sexual Behaviors Among US Adolescents". Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine (American Medical Association (AMA)) 165 (8): 1421-1427. August 2011. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.142 . http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/archpediatrics.2011.142. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  27. "Cardiovascular changes associated with sexual arousal and orgasm in men". Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment (Springer Netherlands) 4 (2): 151-165. June, 1991. doi:10.1007/BF00851611 . 1079-0632 (Print) 1573-286X (Online). http://www.springerlink.com/content/m28k5475630n5872/. Retrieved December 28, 2004.
  28. Brody, Stuart. "Blood pressure reactivity to stress is better for people who recently had penile-vaginal intercourse than for people who had other or no sexual activity." Biological Psychology, Volume 71, Issue 2, February 2006, pages 214-222.
  29. eMedicine article on Penile Fracture and Trauma
  30. American Academy of Family Physicians article on Peyronie's Disease: Current Management
  31. netdoctor.co.uk article on Foreskin contraction (phimosis)
  32. Lawrence I. Sank. "Traumatic Masturbatory Syndrome." Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy 24(1): 37-42 (1998).
  33. Eva Margolies. Undressing the American Male: Men with Sexual Problems and What Women Can Do to Help Them. New York: Penguin, 1994.
  34. Lipsith, Josie; McCann Damian, Goldmeier David. (2003). "Male Psychogenic Sexual Dysfunction: The Role of Masturbation.". Sexual and Relationship Therapy 18: 448-471. http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/526670742-18918489/content~content=a713666884~db=all.
  35. University of Pennsylvania Office of Health Education article on masturbation
  36. Childrens Medical Office of North Andover, P.C. article on Masturbation in Early Childhood
  37. BBC Relationships: Addicted to sex
  38. Kant, Metaphysics of Morals, Second part, §7
  39. Freud, Sigmund auth., Elizabeth Young-Bruehl ed. on women: A Reader pages 182-189 1990 WW Norton

Other websites[change | change source]