According to the Kinsey Institute’s 2009 National Survey of Sexual Health Behavior, some 90 percent of men have masturbated by the time they turn 30. And while the act is commonplace, so are misconceptions about health concerns and benefits. Here, with help from health professionals, listed by Taylor Kubota:

ouching yourself is bad for your genitals

Masturbation can be vigorous and seem a little violent but it’s very unlikely that it’ll do any real damage. So long as a man hasn’t had any recent surgeries such as a circumcision, masturbation should be totally safe, says Dr. Ira D. Sharlip, clinical professor of urology at UCSF. It is technically possible to fracture the penis due to aggressive masturbation (and other types of sex) but this injury is rare.

Masturbation won’t impact fertility

Men don’t become completely infertile as a result of masturbation but it can temporarily reduce their fertility. “It takes most men about 12 to 24 hours to regenerate a good sperm count after a previous ejaculation,” says Sharlip. “So if a patient is masturbating very frequently — and by that I mean multiple times every day — that will suppress the sperm count and reduce the chance for fertility.” A lot of self-love can drop sperm counts drastically but the number will bounce back given some time.

Self-stimulation is highly addictive

It is true that some people masturbate in an obsessive way. Similar to compulsive shopping or video game playing, this is a mental health issue. Anyone who is concerned they masturbate too much or that it is interfering with their lives should speak with a mental health professional. Even though masturbation can be a problem for some, just as you wouldn’t warn people to never go shopping, people shouldn’t be afraid of trying out self-stimulation for fear they’ll get addicted. For most people it’s a pleasurable, healthy activity.

Self-stimulation makes people go insane

This is an old myth that falls in line with warnings that masturbation makes people blind or grow hair on their palms. It’s worth mentioning because many experts think masturbation can actually be good for mental health. The Kinsey Institute notes that self-stimulation can be relaxing and help people become more confident in their sexuality.

Masturbation can fix erectile dysfunction

The best treatments for erectile dysfunction are going to come from a medical professional and masturbation is unlikely to be part of the fix. It can, however, be used as a kind of diagnostic test to better understand a man’s ED. If a man is able to maintain an erection while self-stimulating but has difficulty during partnered sex, it’s likely that his ED has a mental rather than physical cause.

It’s a treatment for premature ejaculation

In some cases, particularly among young men, masturbation before sex can help a man last longer in bed. This is because once a man ejaculates, he generally takes longer to do so again. In Sharlip’s experience, however, men who use ejaculation in this way generally do so through partnered sex rather than masturbation.

Masturbation prevents prostate cancer

Two studies in 2003 and 2004 are often brought up as proof that men who ejaculate more have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. Together, these studies showed that men who ejaculated about 20 times a month reduced their later risk of prostate cancer by over a third compared to men who ejaculated around four to nine times a month. A later study, from 2008, added a caveat: It found that men who were very sexually active in their 20s were at increased risk for prostate cancer — particularly if they masturbated a lot.

It ruins people for sex

Biologically speaking, masturbation can take something away from orgasm. “I think very frequent ejaculation by masturbation could reduce the pleasure of partnered sex,” says Sharlip. This is because the intensity of orgasm can be reduced slightly if it occurs soon after the last one but this scenario applies to any sexual acts that involve climax. Unless you are being stimulated a lot (whether alone or with someone else) you’re unlikely to be satiated for very long.


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