Medically speaking, masturbation is perfectly natural even though, culturally and in most religions, it may still be frowned upon. This taboo and stigma attached to masturbation, according to a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour in 2011, can lead to immense guilt, shame and stress.
This study found that young adults who learn to masturbate during adolescence, internalize the stigma and taboo attached to this pleasurable act, and then have to spend half (or all) their lives coming to terms with this tension between pleasure and stigma. Most sexual health experts nowadays would tell you that this conflict is absolutely unnecessary because masturbation has immense health benefits to impart.
The possible (but rare) negatives of masturbation
For a lot of people, skin rashes due to friction while masturbation is the biggest side effect. Though not severe, this issue can be resolved with the use of lubricants. There are about two other scenarios where masturbation is associated with severe health issues:
Addiction: If you skip chores, daily activities, social events and plans, etc just so you can masturbate, you might have a masturbation addiction. Like every other type of addiction, this can lead to a decline in productivity, irreparable damage to relationships, and can thus be severely debilitating.
Mental disorders: As a study in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine in 2015 pointed out, a severe sense of guilt, shame, immorality and feeling dirty regarding masturbation can lead to severe psychopathologies. These are often severe mental health disorders and maladaptive behaviours which can be extremely debilitating and are caused by the inability to resolve the conflict between the stigma and pleasure of masturbation.
The definite benefits of masturbation
Apart from these two possible fallouts of masturbatory practices, it’s important to know that masturbation is a healthy sexual practice. Many studies have proven that masturbation is very good for physical and mental health, and can benefit you in the following ways:
- Masturbation is very pleasurable, and that’s the primary reason why everyone does it.
- Masturbation is basically a form of self-exploration and therefore helps you better understand what your sexual needs and desires are.
- It improves sex with a partner because once you know what you like, you can guide your partner to optimum mutual pleasure.
- Masturbation releases built-up stress, boosts your mood and helps you relax better.
- The relaxing outcome of masturbation has also been linked to better sleep quality.
- Self and mutual masturbation are good ways to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) while ensuring sexual pleasure.
- In women, masturbation has been shown by studies to relieve menstrual cramps and uterine cramps, even during pregnancy.
- In a 2019 study by Harvard Medical School researchers showed that men who ejaculated at least 21 times a month had a 33% reduced risk of developing prostate cancer. Masturbation can, therefore, improve prostate health.
For more information, read our article on Masturbation: Benefits and side effects.
Health articles on News18 are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.