Published in  
Matters of the Heart
February 10, 2021

Masturbation: The 'Feel Good' Mirage

The main factor as to why masturbation is not something everyone would casually talk about is culture. Many beliefs view masturbation as a sinful act. Others even point out that it has negative effects. But since many people do not talk about it, there are a lot of misconceptions and information that are not known to many.

An old joke said that 98% of people masturbate while the remaining two percent lie about not masturbating. This joke is trying to point out that masturbation is very natural, and somehow it encourages people to masturbate. In reality, only 78% of adults around the world masturbate. People from the age group of 18-24 years old masturbate at least once a week, and in terms of gender, men masturbate more than women. It is common for men to masturbate, starting from puberty age until old age. On the other hand, the majority of women have the highest frequency of masturbation during their 20’s to 40’s only with a significant decrease in number as they grow old.

Even though almost everyone has masturbated at least once in their lifetime, it is still regarded as a topic that most people do not openly discuss. The main factor as to why masturbation is not something everyone would casually talk about is culture. Many beliefs view masturbation as a sinful act. Others even point out that it has negative effects. But since many people do not talk about it, there are a lot of misconceptions and information that are not known to many. Some of this information includes the effects of masturbation on one’s health. Currently, different studies are now trying to determine the actual effects of masturbation.

How Does Masturbation Affect My Mental Health?

A lot of people say that masturbation can help in relieving stress. It somehow resembles a sexual relationship with another person, which could be beneficial for people that do not have the means of having actual sexual intercourse. However, studies say that this is actually the opposite. Masturbation could be associated with more depressive symptoms, less happiness, and several poorer mental health indicators like anxious attachment, immature psychological defense mechanisms, and dissatisfaction with one’s life in general. According to these studies, it was observed that masturbation leads to a decreased ability to socialize, which eventually correlates with the development of unhealthy behaviors.

Another major effect of masturbation is that it alters one’s perception of sex, which ultimately results in decreased satisfaction during sexual intercourse. It is especially true for men because empirical evidence points out that increased masturbation frequency is often associated with impaired sexual function. The most common impaired sexual function in men is erectile dysfunction during sexual intercourse. Erectile dysfunction is the result of men being too accustomed to certain types of stimuli that would arouse them. Some reports have shown that there are men that underwent depressive episodes due to erectile dysfunction, and some even had a divorce with their partners due to sexual incapacity.

How Does Masturbation Affect My Body?

Although masturbation is usually initiated by mental desires and function, it is very much systemic as well. It is highly correlated with other body functions, which means that masturbation has a different impact on the body. Unfortunately, although masturbation could benefit the body, there are still negative consequences that one might have to look out for.

A growing body of evidence shows that excessive masturbation can lead to hypertension in the long term. It seems that masturbation aggravates the reactivity of blood pressure to stress, thus causing vascular diseases. Aside from vascular problems, lymph vessels are also affected by too much masturbation. Recent reports show that some men developed penile lymphedema, which is the swelling of lymph vessels near the penis.

Masturbation could also worsen pain in the prostate gland for men that have prostate problems. However, there are conflicting data regarding the risk of developing prostate cancer from regular masturbation. Older studies show that masturbation could decrease prostate cancer risk, but recent studies disproved this by saying that the given data are not conclusive. Different researchers are still trying to determine the actual effect of masturbation on developing prostate cancer.

Aside from reducing pain sensation, masturbation does not offer any vital benefit to the body. Instead, it is more correlated with adverse health effects. These negative effects are observed in the minority of people who masturbate, but the population of affected people is big enough for the scientific body to recognize it.

Masturbation Affects Penile-Vaginal Intercourse

It was already stated earlier that masturbation could lead to impaired sexual function, such as erectile dysfunction. However, it is interesting to note that the effects of masturbation on sexual intercourse do not end here.

Penile-vaginal intercourse is a heterosexual activity that offers different health benefits. Some of these health benefits include improvement of blood pressure, better vaginal and pelvic muscle function, decreased functional musculoskeletal disturbance, regulated hormones, and better metabolism and nutrition. Sexual intercourse also provides mental health benefits like satisfaction with one’s mental health, feeling of contentment, stronger emotional stability, positive outlook, and better psychological defense mechanism.

With regular masturbation, these effects of heterosexual intercourse are greatly diminished. In fact, some researchers even point out that it does not only reduce the beneficial effects of sexual intercourse, but it also inverts it. It led them to conclude that masturbation must not become a habit since it has a lot of negative impact on one’s life.

Is Masturbation All That Bad?

The evidence-based scientific studies show that masturbation has a lot of unintended negative consequences. Some of these consequences might not significantly affect a person, but it can’t be denied though that these are still negative effects.

Masturbation could easily develop into a habit that progresses into addiction. The negative effects of masturbation are usually observed in people who get addicted to it. It might start as a product of curiosity, but it could definitely lead to some serious implications. One might not even realize the negative effects of masturbation since it is very subtle. The notion that “everyone masturbates” is not at all helpful since it just encourages people, especially teenagers, to masturbate without even being aware of the actual health consequences. Although masturbation could provide some benefits in special medical scenarios, it does not change the fact that it is highly addictive, which is particularly dangerous.

Originally Published: The Aware Academy

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