2/2/2022 / Health and Fitness

Masturbation: Myths, Benefits, Side Effects, and more

Masturbation is a common natural, healthy, safe and fun way to explore your body and release any pent-up sexual tension. Myths aside, Masturbation doesn’t have any harmful side effects when done in moderation.

Masturbation Myths, Benefits, Side Effects, and more
Neeraja HNeeraja H
Neeraja H
MBBS, Medical Doctor
Medically Cited
Fact Checked

Table of content


Masturbation is the act of touching or stimulating one's own genitals for sexual pleasure or arousal. It’s enjoyed by people across the world irrespective of gender, background or race. When practised in moderation, it actually improves your general health and helps reduce stress and instantly improves mood. 

Excessive masturbation, however, can prove disruptive to the person’s relationships and day-to-day life. So it’s important to know about the potential side effects of masturbation or disadvantages of excessive masturbation. 

Even in this modern age, sexual health is considered a taboo-ed topic in some conservative societies. This has paved the way for so many myths to evolve around masturbation. Only when we have clarity about its benefits, will we be able to have a healthy sexual life. 

Let’s try to unravel the myths, come on! 

6 Biggest myths about masturbation

The Biggest myths about masturbation

1. Masturbation can cause infertility

FALSE! There has been no proven connection between regular masturbation and infertility

2. Masturbation can cause erectile dysfunction(ED) in men

FALSE! It does not directly cause ED in men. 

3. Masturbation can cause memory loss

FALSE! This act releases plenty of mood-enhancing hormones like Dopamine (The happiness hormone), Endorphins ( natural painkillers and mood elevators ), Oxytocin ( the love hormone ) and believe it or not, it releases Testosterone (the primary male sex hormone that improves stamina and muscle strength). All these hormones help in improving your mental status instantly and actually improve your focus after the orgasm. 

Ever heard of the term ‘post-nut clarity‘? 

4. Masturbation can cause heart weakness

FALSE! Even though masturbation or any kind of sexual activity can momentarily elevate heart rate and blood pressure but it doesn’t lead to longstanding negative impacts on your heart health.

5. Masturbation can cause blindness

FALSE! This is a very commonly circulating myth and is absolutely not true.

6. Masturbation can cause PCOS in females

FALSE! Masturbation does not cause PCOS but vice versa can rarely occur. If a female has PCOS and hence irregular or absent periods, it can negatively impact the interest of the woman in sexual activities thereby could possibly increase the frequency of self-pleasure.

Also Read: Masturbation Effects on Kidney

Health benefits of masturbation

Health benefits of masturbation

A common question that arises in the mind of a person, either male or female,  who has discovered masturbation for the first time is ‘Is masturbation good or bad?’ 

Remember, masturbation is as natural as breathing or eating. It has so many benefits that could improve your fundamental health status, both mental and physical health. Some of these benefits, both in men and women are: 

  • Elevates mood instantly. 

  • Increased energy and higher pain tolerance. 

  • Makes you feel relaxed and pleasured.

  • Helps sleep better. 

  • Helps relieve pelvic cramps, especially menstrual cramps. 

  • Improved pelvic floor strength. 

  • Most importantly, masturbation helps you identify your needs and desires and also the erogenous zones that help you spruce up your sex life with your partner. 

  • Improves self-esteem and body image, both in males and females.                

  • Masturbation can relieve stress, thus helping to prevent anxiety and depression.

  • Most people find that masturbating improves focus and concentration.

How much is too much?

This must be a burning question in your mind. How much is too much

Some people masturbate weekly, some do it daily, some others do it a few times a month and some others do not masturbate at all.

All of the above frequencies are normal! 

There are a lot of variations in how much anyone masturbates and this frequency depends upon their health status, their stress levels, their desires, relationships, their gender and so many other factors. So what’s acceptable for you may not be the same for another individual. 

There are no set standards for how often you must indulge in self-pleasure. It’s completely a personal preference on how often you want to do it. 

So, do not worry about masturbating too much until your masturbating habits start causing you any physical, mental or emotional distress. If that happens, that’s when you know you may be masturbating more than what is currently healthy for you. 

How can you know you are masturbating excessively? 

There are a few subtle indicators to help you identify when you are doing it excessively with regard to your health:

How can you know you are masturbating excessively
  • It takes up a lot of your time and energy. 

  • Masturbation starts interfering with your sex life with your partners. 

  • The habit starts interfering with your day-to-day responsibilities at your place of work or study. 

  • Masturbation no longer feels pleasurable and feels like work rather than a choice. 

  • When you start experiencing negative emotions around masturbation like guilt, anger or sadness. 

  • You find it difficult to even stop thinking about it. 

  • You feel the need to cancel professional appointments or meetings to go and masturbate. 

These are a few cues that could point to a problematic frequency of masturbation. 

Masturbation addiction- Is it real?

Though there has been some research into whether masturbation addiction is an actual disease, there is currently no clinical diagnosis for it. Masturbation addiction is also not recognised as a mental health illness by DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental health illnesses). 

Masturbation statistics all over the globe

However, ‘masturbation compulsion ‘ or ‘compulsive masturbation ‘ are considered more appropriate terms and is included under the category of compulsive sexual disorders or hypersexuality disorders.

Frequently masturbating is not considered compulsive masturbation or masturbation addiction. However, if you are experiencing disruptions in your day-to-day personal life or professional life because of excessive masturbation and are subjected to any of the indicators of excessive masturbation discussed above, it could be considered as compulsive masturbation. 

3 ways to beat compulsive sexual disorders? 

Do not worry if you feel the need to masturbate too frequently that it disrupts your everyday life. In such a case, do not hesitate to get help. The possible options are:

1. Therapy

You could consult with a psychiatrist or psychologist for the same. They may help you with techniques to improve your self-control and overcome your urges. 

2. Support groups

You could share your concerns in a safe space. Your therapist may even recommend you to a support group. 

3. Are there any medications?

Unfortunately, there are currently no specific drugs to help you overcome compulsive sexual behaviours. However, sometimes, your treating doctor may find it necessary to prescribe you drugs if there are any related concerns like depression. 

Side Effects of Masturbation for both males and females

Let’s discuss a few side effects of masturbation or disadvantages of masturbation for both genders: 

side effects of masturbation or disadvantages of masturbation in males & females

For Males:

1. Reduced sexual sensitivity or sexual dysfunction

This mainly happens if the man has an aggressive technique, like gripping the penis too tightly. This can lead to a reduced sensation over the penis. However, this particular disadvantage of masturbation addiction can be overcome by changing to a less aggressive technique. 

2. Low sperm count

The jury is still out on this particular issue. Even though masturbation does not reduce sperm count permanently, every time a male ejaculates, his testes need some time to build up the sperm count back to its maximum. It has been found that a male can ejaculate upto 5 times a day and will still have sperms in his fifth ejaculation. However, both the quantity of semen and the number of sperms will be lesser than the previous ejaculations. The quality of the sperm is not affected in any way. So, this fall in sperm count is temporary.

Just imagine the testicle to be a factory manufacturing sperms. When the stock is being taken out frequently, the factory needs some time to manufacture back the sperms. 

3. Edema

This is one of the common side effects of masturbation. This is a physical condition that occurs when continuous pressure is given on a certain part of the body. The body parts get swollen with redness. The patient can experience itching and irritation in the genitals. 

Continuous masturbation can lead to sore genitals. The soreness and swelling can be corrected by abstaining from masturbation until you are relieved of the complaints.

4. Redness

Itchiness and redness are common side effects of masturbation in males. When a person masturbates daily, he uses lubricants. Low-quality lubricants can create itching. The itchiness and redness are disturbing when you are in public. Men sometimes use their unclean hands to soothe themselves. This may end up causing genital infections. 

5. Nightfall

Nightfall is the spontaneous ejaculation of semen while the man is sleeping. This usually occurs at night or in the early hours of dawn. It’s a natural method of emptying the seminal fluid to prevent it from accumulating, thereby helping to form new healthy seminal fluid.

However, this can prove embarrassing for some men. This happens when you frequently masturbate for a while and then stop masturbating for a long time. So, now the body has to evacuate the semen by this method of nightfall. However repeated episodes of nightfall need medical attention. 

6. Social distancing

This could happen if the man is a patient of compulsive masturbation and self-pressure is the only thing he could think about all the time. They may negatively impact his personal and professional life. This may cause the person several issues in their sexual relationships also. 

7. Low self-esteem

This is a possible issue stemming from excessive masturbation. This can happen especially if the male cannot attain the same pleasure that he gets in masturbation when involved in sexual intercourse with his partner. 

For Females:

1. Guilt

This is one of the most common side effects of masturbation. Most women face guilt when they masturbate. This may be the result of their religious or cultural upbringing. This can affect their self-esteem as a woman. 

2. Reduced sensation over the clitoris

The clitoris of females is a very sensitive organ with millions of nerve endings. When the woman practices excessive masturbation, and constant stimulation of the clitoris, it may end up causing decreased sensation over it. However, this is temporary and will return back to normal after a while. 

3. Back pain

Contraction of pelvic muscle can be seen in some women. This is also another side effect of masturbation if done in excess. Pain and cramps are regular visitors if you cannot get rid of masturbation. 

4. Lowering libido level

Even though there is no scientific explanation for this, a rare side effect of excessive masturbation in females is a reduction in the sex drive in a fraction of them.

Masturbation and prostate cancer

The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland in males that produces the seminal fluid that nurtures and transports sperm. Prostate cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer men get. Several risk factors are associated with prostate cancer, such as age, race, genetics, diet, lifestyle, sexual habits, STDs, etc.

Many people believe that frequent masturbation could lead to prostate cancer. However, studies show that the more often men masturbate or ejaculate, the less likely they are to develop prostate cancer.

A study showed that the benefits of masturbation increase with age and that there is no increased risk of prostate cancer related to the age of ejaculation. Another study showed that frequent ejaculation in young adulthood reduced the risk of prostate cancer. The exact reason behind it is not clear. Some suggest that masturbation helps eliminate prostate cancer-causing infections, materials, and matter that can cause inflammation.

Masturbation and premature ejaculation

Even though many consider premature ejaculation as one of the common side effects of masturbation, this relation has not been proven yet. However, if a male is suffering from premature ejaculation where he ejaculates within 1 minute of penetration, he is usually advised to masturbate an hour or so before intercourse, as this may actually help to delay the ejaculation during his sexual relationship with his partner, again for unproven reasons.

So if you are suffering from premature ejaculation, do not consider that as a disadvantage of masturbation always. Consult a doctor to diagnose the cause behind your complaints.

FAQ on Masturbation: Myths, Benefits, Side Effects, and more

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