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Summary

Masturbation is a common and normal sexual practice in males and females and is a part of growing up. Although many children masturbate at a very young age, puberty is generally the period when you feel tempted to derive sexual pleasure by masturbating. In advanced parts of the Western world, while masturbating is considered a normal part of sexual development which benefits both males and females in a number of ways, there is a conflict between the happiness sought and the guilt or shame that grips you due to the views of the society and religion in conservative countries like India. Medically, masturbation is harmless and can relieve stress, elevate mood and give you a sound sleep. It also helps you discover your own sexual preferences and likes. However, when performed in extreme ways and excessively, it can make you addicted such that it may start interfering with your normal daily activities. There are several ways in which you can masturbate depending on whether you are a boy or a girl. Masturbation can either be a solitary act or practised mutually between sexual partners. Mutual masturbation with your partner can be an act of foreplay and helps you understand each other’s sexual needs. 

  1. What is Masturbation
  2. Learning about Masturbation
  3. Male Masturbation
  4. Female Masturbation
  5. Mutual Masturbation
  6. Excessive Masturbation
  7. Benefits of Masturbation
  8. Side effects of Masturbation
  9. Doctors for Masturbation

The act where you stimulate your own genitals to gain sexual pleasure, mostly to the extent of achieving a climax, is termed as masturbation. It is a part of sexual activities performed by both men and women. Sometimes, it is carried out to seek stress release too. It is a way to discover your likes and dislikes while having sex. In the Indian culture, speaking about sex or any sex-related topic openly is not encouraged, especially when it comes to talking about masturbation. However, times are changing, and society has accepted this change and a healthy discussion between parents and kids about masturbation can help clear the clutter of thoughts in their minds. You may masturbate alone or with your partner and, in many relationships, couples masturbating together is a common practice of seeking sexual pleasure. Social views regarding masturbation vary across the world. In many countries, masturbation has been depicted in ancient sculptures and paintings. In some ancient mythologies, the act of masturbation has been considered normal, while some religious beliefs disapprove the act of masturbation. 

Masturbation: A social stigma or a sexual development process?

It is commonly seen that the percentage of men who masturbate is more than that of women or maybe there are very few women who accept and admit that they masturbate. A question likely to arise in your mind over and over again is whether masturbation is harmful or harmless. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), masturbation has been classified under behavioural disorders in children. Children may masturbate simply to explore the feeling. In many Western countries, efforts are being made to identify masturbation as a strategy for improving sexual health. In countries like India where sex education has started gaining importance only in recent times, talking about masturbation or educating young girls and boys on this topic is a major challenge. No matter where you get the idea of masturbation from, it still remains a stigma and, in most instances, you are torn between the need to masturbate to fulfil your sexual desire and the guilt you may feel because you wanted to indulge in such an act. 

Research related to sex primarily focuses on sexually transmitted diseases, improvement in sexual activity and pregnancy. Much work is yet to be done in considering masturbation as a step in the process of sexual development. There are innumerable myths about masturbation – you may have heard or read that masturbation leads to damage of sex organs, makes you lose interest in sex or have a decreased libido and the most common one is that it is due to mental disorders. However, these are misconceptions and there is no truth in them. Some studies were conducted where both genders were educated about masturbation and the changes in their attitude and sexual development on learning about and practising masturbation were analysed. The findings were extremely intriguing. It was seen that the double standard with masturbation still remained in the minds of young adults. They showed conflicts of thoughts about whether the pleasure one sought from masturbation was important for sexual development or if it is a prohibited act that would harm the individual or even cause damage to their sex organs. However, if you receive proper sex education at the right age, the idea of masturbation can help you in the process of sexual development.

Following are the answers to a simple question – why do you masturbate?

  • Knowing your body 
    You are the first person who should become very well aware of your body. Only when you love your own body, will you be able to enjoy the physical pleasures.
  • Know your sexual needs 
    Masturbation can be helpful to you in many ways. It will help you in knowing what turns you on. Unless you are aware of what makes you feel aroused, how can you get the pleasure from your partner? By masturbating, you may know what you like and what you don’t during sex. 
  • Sperm donation 
    Masturbation can be a requirement for sperm donation, either for some laboratory tests to measure the sperm count or for the in vitro fertilisation technique in which the sperms and an egg from donors are fused in controlled laboratory conditions. The embryo is then transferred to the womb of the woman who wants to conceive.
  • Advice by a sex therapist 
    Your sex therapist might advise you to masturbate in order to get a sexual high and orgasm. This is seen more commonly in women. 
  • Delaying orgasm 
    Often men are known to masturbate to delay ejaculation and orgasm.

It is very common to see children around the age of 6 to 10 years playing with their genitals; however, deriving bliss from such acts generally begins during puberty. While there are many ways to learn about masturbation, getting caught by parents would be the most uncomfortable thing and could fill you with guilt. In adolescents, masturbation is pretty common. There have been reports of masturbation in small children, which is difficult to diagnose because movements done by these children during masturbation are confused with some medical conditions such as, epilepsy. Such acts are generally related to emotional deprivation or sexual abuse at a young age. Let us try to figure out the various means through which young boys and girls learn to masturbate.

  • Social groups 
    You may acquire the knowledge, whether complete or in bits and pieces, from various social groups. 
  • Family 
    There is a very little chance that children discuss masturbation at home with their parents or siblings. Although many families are open to discussions on sex, masturbation and sex before marriage still remain social stigmas. However, with the help of counsellors, parents can bring up the topic and discuss it with their children.
  • School 
    Although sex education is now a part of the curriculum in Indian schools, especially for children who have reached puberty, masturbation is still a controversial topic and is not included in sex education. Despite this, they learn about masturbation from their friends or seniors.
  • Media 
    With the large-scale use of the internet and its uncensored access to children, it is easy for children to gain information about masturbation on the internet. Unfortunately, this information is not always scientifically validated and can leave a teenager confused.
  • Pornography 
    Watching porn videos and scenes from movies or reading sexually explicit content in magazines or books can be a means of knowing about masturbation. 
  • Most males masturbate by holding their penis in their hand and moving the hand up and down the shaft with a loose fist until they ejaculate. Gentle or fast strokes are all that is needed to reach climax. You may rub the penis on a soft pillow or on the bed and experience orgasm.
  • You may make use of an artificial vagina to masturbate. Sliding the skin of the shaft back and forth, you may put it into a simulacrum or artificial vagina. If you have a circumcised penis, you may experience pain or soreness while moving the hand up and down the penis. A lubricating cream might help you masturbate without experiencing any pain.
  • You don’t have to be monotonous! You may try to change positions while masturbating to enhance the sensation while thrusting or gyrating can create more fun in your act. All this accompanied by movement of your hips can be even more pleasurable.
  • Touching the testicles and giving them a light massage can be more pleasurable. As the testicles have nerve endings inside them, stimulating the testicles can heighten the pleasure while you masturbate.
  • Your prostate has the male G-spot, a golden point to achieve a full orgasm when stimulated. The prostate can be stimulated by inserting your own lubricated fingers or a dildo into the anus. Long-lasting, complete orgasm may be achieved by stimulating the male G-spot. However, it is important to take good care of hygiene and avoid touching your penis after stimulating the anal canal.
  • You can masturbate under a running shower. Water hitting the penis from the shower head can do wonders while masturbating.

Sexual desires and preferences are things which Indian women have been culturally inhibited from discussing or revealing. Sadly, the prevalence of patriarchy marks talking about such things as a shameless act, especially by women. Nevertheless, masturbation is a natural way to derive sexual pleasure solo. Females have a number of stimulation points which can give them an orgasm. The orgasms can be experienced at the vagina, clitoris and anus. Sometimes even the nipples, which are among the erogenous zones of your body, can give immense pleasure during masturbation. Masturbation may not always end in an orgasm. In many instances, experiencing the endorphin high due to the sexual arousal is more pleasurable than the climax. Let us look at the different ways in which females masturbate.

  • Your clitoris is the spot, which when stimulated gives a feeling akin to orgasm. It can be rubbed, touched or massaged with fingers to get aroused. Using a lubricant while massaging can intensify the sensation. Stimulating the clitoris using a jet of water can also arouse you.
  • Vaginal orgasm can be achieved by fingering and stimulating the G-spot. You may put one or more fingers at a time into the vagina and stroke the inside gently or forcibly the way you like it. The in-and-out movement of the fingers can make the vaginal walls experience a throb and you may get an orgasm while doing so. It is important to wash your hands with soap before inserting your fingers inside the vagina.
  • Moving the fingers in and out of the anus can also give you an orgasmic feeling; yes, anal sex can be equally enjoyable for you. Again, maintaining hygiene is of utmost importance. Once you have inserted your fingers in the anal canal, do not insert them inside your vagina without washing your hands with soap.
  • Use of vibrators can simulate the feeling of a penis penetrating the vagina, and these sex toys can make masturbation enjoyable.
  • Stimulating your erogenous zones can intensify the orgasm you get while masturbating. Squeezing or twisting the nipples and massaging the breasts with one hand while fingering with the other can give intense pleasure.
  • Simply crossing the legs and pressing the vagina between them combined with a few strokes can give you an instant sexual high.
  • A perfect combination while masturbating is stimulating the clitoris and the vagina at the same time. Don’t forget to move your fingers rhythmically in and out. You may experience an exploding orgasm this way!

Many couples practise masturbation regularly as foreplay. Before actually entering into a sexual act, it is fun and enjoyable to touch each other’s genitals. Mutual masturbation can involve two or more people masturbating together. It can also be done with people of the same or different sex. In mutual masturbation, you can either masturbate in each other’s presence without touching the other person or you may touch the other person without actual penetration and reach a sexual high.

Masturbation is no doubt a common sexual act performed to unfold the pleasures your body can experience. However, it may set off a flurry of questions in your mind. Am I masturbating too much? How many times should I masturbate? It is quite natural to have these doubts; however, there is no scientific finding which points at how often is normal. Every person has a different sexual need; the intensity of arousal is not the same in everyone. So, masturbating once a day might be normal for you, while in the case of someone else, it might be once a week. Unless masturbation does not become a part of obsessive-compulsive behaviour, it is fine to masturbate on a daily basis. You just need to ensure that it does not drain your energy levels excessively. If you are masturbating so much that you ignore your daily activities and avoid doing your routine work, then it may be bordering on excessive. 

Stimulating yourself by masturbating is a safe and healthy way to fulfil your sexual needs. Although there has not been much research on the beneficial effects of masturbation in women or men, there have been some documented experiences of the same. Masturbation can be beneficial to you in the following ways:

  • Relieves stress
  • Elevates mood
  • Masturbation is safe; it does not lead to any sexually transmitted disease or genital infection (unless performed with dirty hands or contaminated sex toys).
  • There is no risk of pregnancy and yet you can enjoy the pleasure of sex.
  • You get to know your body and its sexual needs.
  • You know what turns you on, and so you can discuss with your partner about what makes you aroused. Mutual masturbation with your partner can also help in knowing your likes.
  • In women, masturbation may relieve abdominal cramps.
  • It is a satisfying experience, so it can help you sleep better.

It is rightly said, ‘anything in excess is poison’. Don’t let the pleasures of masturbation get you addicted to it. When done excessively, it can be risky. The risks associated with masturbation are discussed below:

  • In the Indian culture, some religious beliefs and conservative families can make you feel ashamed or guilty of masturbating.
  • Addiction to masturbation can affect your sexual relationship with your partner.
  • Sometimes masturbating intensely can lead to injury during the act.
  • You may experience loss of energy after excessive and frequent masturbation.
  • It may not be safe in high-risk pregnancies, as it may increase the chances of premature labour.

Masturbation is a common practice irrespective of gender, age or country. It comes with a number of health benefits and makes you feel good, as it relieves stress in both men and women. The neurotransmitters released during masturbation elevate the general mood of an individual. Thus, masturbation is healthy and beneficial according to medical experts. However, talking openly about it or admitting to doing the act can be considered shameful in conservative countries that strongly uphold their traditional values and religious beliefs.

Dr. Abdul Haseeb Sheikh

Dr. Abdul Haseeb Sheikh

Sexology
8 Years of Experience

Dr. Srikanth Varma

Dr. Srikanth Varma

Sexology
8 Years of Experience

Dr. Pranay Gandhi

Dr. Pranay Gandhi

Sexology
10 Years of Experience

Dr. Tarun

Dr. Tarun

Sexology
8 Years of Experience

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References

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  2. Christine Elizabeth Kaestle, Katherine R Allen. The Role of Masturbation in Healthy Sexual Development: Perceptions of Young Adults. 40(5):983-94 · February 2011. DOI: 10.1007/s10508-010-9722-0
  3. Heitham K. Ajlouni, Azhar S. Daoud, Saleh F. Ajlouni, and Kamel M. Ajlouni. Infantile and early childhood masturbation: Sex hormones and clinical profile. 2010 Nov-Dec; 30(6): 471–474. PMID: 21060161
  4. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Masturbation Q&A
  5. Cynthia L. Robbins, MD; Vanessa Schick, PhD; Michael Reece, PhD, MPH; et al. Prevalence, Frequency, and Associations of Masturbation With Partnered Sexual Behaviors Among US Adolescents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011;165(12):1087-1093. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.142
  6. Better health channel. Department of Health and Human Services [internet]. State government of Victoria; Masturbation
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