The Truth About Masturbation: Can You Really Become Addicted?

Quick Facts

  • 92 percent of American men masturbate, studies show.
  • Experts say there is no such thing as “masturbation addiction.”
  • Some men may be dealing with compulsive masturbation.
  • Some studies suggest regular sex, including masturbation, may help prevent erectile dysfunction.
  • There is no “right” frequency of masturbation.
  • If you notice your self-pleasuring habits interfering with your life, get professional help.

Loss of eyesight, heart disease, weakness, even death. Would you imagine people used to believe they were caused by masturbation? Self-pleasuring had a bad name for centuries, with its peak in the Middle Ages and the Victorian era.

Today doctors no longer treat young people for the habit of masturbation. We know that self-pleasuring is a normal and healthy sexual practice. But is there a grain of truth in the belief that you could get addicted to masturbation?

Does Everyone Masturbate?

That thing with masturbation is very curious. Almost everyone does it, but few talk about it openly.

Here are the facts: According to a big worldwide study conducted in 2018, 78 percent of adults do it. In the United States, 92 percent of men and 76 percent of women admitted to self-pleasuring.  If you do it, you are not alone.

76 percent of U.S. women masturbate
76 percent of U.S. women masturbate

Can You Get Addicted to Masturbation?

The term “masturbation addiction” gained popularity in the past few years, thanks to the rise of online communities encouraging people — mostly men — to give up self-pleasuring and stop watching porn.

While the creators of these sites no longer tell guys they will go blind if they touch their penises, they do spread non-scientific beliefs. Some of their claims, like the one about pornography consumption causing ED, have not been backed by research.

The official position of experts is clear: There is no such thing as masturbation addiction. The term is not featured in the diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association, DSM-V.

In addition, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) has issued a position statement on sex addiction. According to this institution, “There is no sufficient empirical evidence to support the classification of sex addiction or porn addiction as a mental health disorder.”

Difference Between Addiction and Compulsion

Official classifications aside, sex therapists around the globe have clients who tell them they have a problem with masturbation. Addiction to self-pleasuring is a highly divisive topic among the counseling community. The majority of sexuality professionals use the term “compulsive masturbation” instead of “masturbation addiction.”

Addiction is a broad term, referring to the process of becoming dependent on a particular substance or behavior. The definition of compulsion is narrower, focusing on the strong urge to do something.

Masturbation can become one of those obsessive-compulsive behaviors. People who do it may not engage in it for pleasure, and the activity may interfere with their everyday lives. On a rare occasion, repeated masturbation can lead to physical harm, such as skin abrasions.

Most sex therapists talk about masturbation compulsion instead of addiction
Most sex therapists talk about masturbation compulsion instead of addiction

Can Excessive Masturbation Lead to Erectile Dysfunction?

While folk beliefs warn masturbation might lead to erectile dysfunction, scientists have proven the opposite to be true. A 2008 Finnish study revealed that men who engaged in frequent sex were less likely to develop ED.

Although researchers did not focus on masturbation alone and analyzed the impact of sexual activity in general, the physical mechanisms behind both intercourse and masturbation are the same.

Self-pleasuring can have a positive impact on men’s sexual confidence too. By regularly getting hard you can rest assured that your male organ is functioning properly.

Interesting fact: Using sex toys can help you combat erectile dysfunction. Read more in my article here.

How Much Masturbation is Too Much?

In my time as a sexuality educator, I would answer daily questions from anxious teenagers. “I masturbate X times a day. Is this normal?” was one of the top concerns. Nowadays, I work only with adults and still receive messages from guys worried about their masturbation habits.

Is there such a thing as “too much,” or excessive masturbation? It really depends. One thing is certain: You can’t put a number on the “right amount” of self-pleasuring in your life.

An adolescent boy at the peak of puberty may feel the need to do it several times a day. The same man may do it a few times a week as an adult, only to occasionally return to a more-frequent pattern. For example, he may become single again, his partner may be away, or he may have a stressful time at work.

How is the latter related to masturbation? Stimulating yourself to orgasm is a self-soothing mechanism. It’s not problematic in itself as long as this is not the only way to calm yourself down. Imagine you get anxious after a tough conversation with your boss and the only way to cool your nerves is to masturbate. Not too convenient, right?

Regular sex, including masturbation, can help prevent erectile dysfunction
Regular sex, including masturbation, can help prevent erectile dysfunction

When to Seek Help for Frequent Masturbation

Self-pleasuring past puberty is not a cause for concern. You can continue doing it even when you find a steady partner. Making love to someone does not mean you stop being a sexual being on your own. So, when should you be worried about masturbation and seek counseling? There are two situations that should cause concern.

  • When Masturbation Rules Your Life

Remember that example of stress at the office? If your only way to cope with stress is to touch yourself, and you must run to the bathroom or skip work because you have such a strong urge to masturbate, you may be dealing with compulsive behavior.

As I mentioned earlier, it is not the frequency that matters. If you feel like you are abandoning your social, professional, and family obligations because of masturbation, talk to a sexuality professional and get help.

  • When You Have Difficulties with Partnered Sex

If you practice solo sex often and always in the same manner, your body may get used to one type of stimulation (like a strong hand squeeze).

When the time comes to have intercourse with an actual person, sensations may feel different and your erection may wane. This is not a big cause for concern and a sex therapist or coach can help you modify some patterns and enjoy both solo and partnered sex again.

How eDrugstore Can Help

Sometimes, a short treatment with a medication such as Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis can help you overcome symptoms of erectile dysfunction whatever the cause. Learn more about erectile dysfunction and the medication options we offer in our ED medication guide, or call 1-800-467-5146 to set up a confidential medical consultation today.

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