Dear Dr Love, am I masturbating too much?

Masturbating. We all do it and it is a beautiful experience to be able to pleasure yourself. In fact I would say that sometimes it can even be better than having sex with a partner – at least, you always know how to bring yourself to an orgasm! Despite how often we do this, there is still a remarkable amount of misinformation about masturbation. Let me try to clear up some questions for you.

Let’s start with an easy one. Is masturbation normal?

Yes. Masturbation is completely normal and extremely common. People of all ages masturbate and it’s often the first sexual experience they have. However, not everybody enjoys masturbating and there’s no reason to do it if you don’t want to.

Masturbation/wanking/solo-sex etc is completely healthy, natural and safe. It’s a great way to get to know your body and understand what feels good for you. This means you can experience pleasure yourself but will also help you communicate what you like to your sexual partners.

OK, but what exactly is masturbation?

Masturbation is when you get sexual pleasure from touching your genitals, usually with your hand. You can masturbate yourself or a partner. Masturbation usually leads to an orgasm. Generally, men and boys masturbate by rubbing or moving their hand up and down their erect penis. Women and girls may use their fingers or hand to rub the area around their clitoris or vagina. Many people enjoy masturbating with their partner as part of a healthy sex life and there’s no right or wrong way to masturbate.

Can masturbating cause any health problems?

Masturbation doesn’t cause any harm, either physically or mentally, even if you do it often. Your genitals may feel sore however if you masturbate a lot in a short space of time. If you masturbate with a partner, the risk of passing on or getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is low, as long as you don’t pass any fluid from your genitals, like semen, to one another on your fingers or in any other way.

Although people may be embarrassed to talk about masturbating, you shouldn’t feel ashamed of it or guilty about doing it. If you feel the need to masturbate is interfering with your everyday life, talking to a GP may help.

Is there such a thing as masturbating too much? How much is too much?

Generally no, but you could become addicted to masturbation, which isn’t good. If you start missing work or social events in order to masturbate, you might want to speak to someone about this. Apart from some soreness or skin irritation, it’s unlikely you will experience any health problems.

Can masturbating make me infertile or impotent?

This is highly unlikely. Even if you masturbate a lot, it’s not likely to have much effect on your fertility. While there is some data that shows optimum semen quality occurs after two to three days of no ejaculation, there are also other studies that suggest that men who have normal sperm quality maintain normal sperm motility and concentrations even with daily ejaculation.

Is it okay to masturbate if I’m in a relationship?

It is completely healthy to masturbate if you are partnered, as long as the behaviour does not interfere with the sexual intimacy that you have with your partner. Some people feel that something is wrong if the person they are with are masturbating, that perhaps they are not fulfilled sexually.

But there are many reasons why someone might masturbate. It could be because they have a high sex drive, or simply felt the urge to release.

We shouldn’t feel threatened when a partner masturbates. But if you do notice a change in your sex life and are unhappy with it, or if you feel your partner isn’t engaging in couple sex as much, maybe it’s worth discussing this with them.

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Dr Love is an expert on sexual health and well-being, and believes everyone can have a healthy and fulfilling sex-positive life. Have questions? Send them to askdrlove@asia.gay.

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