You might recall a 1992 Seinfeld episode called “The Contest.”
At the beginning, friends Jerry, Kramer, and Elaine are sitting in their favorite coffee shop when fellow friend George walks in, looking upset. He reveals that his mother caught him masturbating and swears he will never do it again – anywhere.
His friends are not convinced, and George proposes a contest. Which friend can go the longest without masturbating? Bets are made, and then Elaine says she wants to join in too.
George and Jerry protest. “It’s easier for a woman not to do it than a man,” Jerry explains, adding, “We have to do it. It’s part of our lifestyle. It’s like, uh . . . shaving.”
Whether masturbating is part of the male lifestyle might be debatable, but research suggests that men masturbate more than women do. A 2010 study from the Kinsey Institute of Indiana University found that 1 in 4 men between the ages of 18 and 59 masturbated a few times a month to weekly. About 20% said they masturbated two to three times a week. In contrast, women masturbated once a week or less.
Masturbation is a healthy activity, for the most part. But there are things men should be aware of, and we’ll go over some of those today, along with ways to make the self-stimulation even better.
What are the benefits of masturbation?
We’ve come a long way from the old wives’ tale telling us that masturbation makes people go blind or gives them hairy palms. In truth, masturbation is natural, normal, and healthy.
Here are some of the benefits:
- It brings pleasure.
- It’s (usually) a safe sexual outlet. You can relieve sexual tension without worries of an unplanned pregnancy or sexually-transmitted infection (STI). You can also get some sexual release if you’re single or if your partner is far away or unable to have sex.
- It offers an opportunity to explore your own body and figure out where and how you like to be touched.
- It can relieve tension and stress and might help you sleep better.
Could masturbation become a problem?
Some men masturbate more than others, and as long as it doesn’t interfere with your day-to-day life or your relationships, you probably don’t need to worry about the frequency.
However, men should be aware of some concerns:
- Skin irritation. Masturbating too vigorously can cause the skin on the penis to become irritated.
- Penile fracture. Excessive force or bending the penis during masturbation can lead to penile fracture, which is an emergency. If you hear cracking or popping sound, or experience bleeding or bruising, seek immediate medical care.
- Premature ejaculation. Some men who bring themselves to climax quickly might find that their bodies adjust to this timing.
- Needing more stimulation. If you masturbate more rigorously, or do so while viewing pornography, you might need more stimulation from your partner to become fully aroused and reach orgasm. Porn may also lead to unrealistic expectationsfor sex, as it does not depict what usually happens with everyday couples.
- Addiction. Many men masturbate while watching pornographic videos or looking at adult magazines. This can become problematic if the time spent masturbating takes away from daily responsibilities or interferes with work, school, or relationships. Men who think they are addicted to pornography are encouraged to see their doctor or therapist. (Learn more about porn addiction here.)
Are there other ways to masturbate?
The process may seem pretty straightforward. But men can enhance their experiences by mixing things up. Here are some ideas to try:
- Visualize other scenarios. While masturbating, close your eyes and imagine an erotic scenario that is different from what you usually experience. See where your mind takes you.
- Use toys or props. Some men find that vibrators and artificial vaginas enhance their masturbation.
- Use other media. Try listening to soft music or a suggestive audiobook or podcast.
- Touch other areas of the body. The penis plays an important role in sexual excitement, but it’s not the only location. Try rubbing your chest, testicles, or perineum (the area between your penis and anus).
- Try other locations or positions. If you typically masturbate in bed, try it in the shower. If you stroke with your right hand, try doing so with your left.
Ultimately, as long as your technique and practice doesn’t hurt you or others, just do what feels right and enjoy the pleasure.
Between Us Clinic
“How to Masturbate Correctly – A Guide for Healthy Male Masturbation”
(November 6, 2018)
International Society for Sexual Medicine
“Does masturbation cause erectile dysfunction (ED)?”
“What are some effects of sustained pornography use?”
“What can be done to help someone who has a problem with pornography?”
“What is the “normal” frequency of masturbation?”
Medical News Today
“Are there side effects to masturbation?”
(Last reviewed: December 7, 2017)
(First broadcast: November 18, 1992)
“What are Some of the Myths About Masturbation?”
(Updated: May 23, 2018)
Griffin, R. Morgan
“Male Masturbation: 5 Things You Didn’t Know”
(Reviewed: January 28, 2017)