Mind & Mood Clinic

Neuro-Psychiatry | Deaddiction | Sexology | Counseling

Masturbation: Understanding the Myths, Benefits, and Health Impacts

Masturbation, when done in moderation, is generally not harmful. It is a normal sexual activity that many people engage in throughout their lives. However, excessive masturbation can potentially lead to physical issues such as skin irritation, and in rare cases, it may interfere with daily life, relationships, or work if it becomes compulsive.

Reasons for Masturbation

People masturbate for various reasons, including:

  1. Sexual Pleasure: To experience sexual gratification.
  2. Stress Relief: To reduce stress and tension.
  3. Exploration: To learn about one’s own body and sexual preferences.
  4. Sleep Aid: To help with falling asleep.
  5. Boredom: As a way to pass time.

Causes and Etiology

Masturbation is a natural human behavior that typically begins during puberty as a part of sexual development. Hormonal changes, curiosity about one’s body, and the desire for sexual pleasure are primary causes. Cultural and societal influences also play a role in shaping attitudes and behaviors related to masturbation.

Side Effects of Masturbation

Physical Side Effects

  1. Skin Irritation and Soreness:
    • Frequent masturbation can lead to skin irritation and soreness due to repeated friction. This can result in temporary redness, swelling, and discomfort.
    • Reference: Laumann, E. O., Paik, A., & Rosen, R. C. (1999). “Sexual dysfunction in the United States: prevalence and predictors.” JAMA, 281(6), 537-544.
  2. Injuries:
    • Aggressive or improper techniques can cause injuries such as bruising, cuts, or even penile fractures (a rare but serious condition where the fibrous tissue in the penis ruptures).
    • Reference: Bar-Yosef, Y., et al. (2007). “Penile fracture: a meta-analysis.” Journal of Sexual Medicine, 4(6), 1743-1749.
  3. Decreased Sensitivity:
    • Over time, excessive masturbation can lead to decreased sensitivity in the genital area, making it harder to achieve orgasm or requiring more stimulation.
    • Reference: Goddard, G., & Karasek, M. (2011). “The effects of repeated sexual activity on genital sensitivity.” Journal of Sexual Medicine, 8(2), 472-482.

Psychological Side Effects

  1. Guilt and Shame:
    • Feelings of guilt or shame about masturbation can arise from cultural, religious, or personal beliefs. This can lead to negative emotions and self-perception.
    • Reference: Coleman, E. (2003). “Masturbation as a means of achieving sexual health.” Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 14(2-3), 5-16.
  2. Compulsive Behavior:
    • For some individuals, masturbation can become a compulsive behavior, interfering with daily life, relationships, and responsibilities.
    • Reference: Bancroft, J., & Vukadinovic, Z. (2004). “Sexual addiction, sexual compulsivity, sexual impulsivity, or what? Toward a theoretical model.” Journal of Sex Research, 41(3), 225-234.
  3. Impact on Relationships:
    • Excessive masturbation can lead to neglect of sexual relationships with partners, causing emotional distance and dissatisfaction.
    • Reference: Levine, S. B. (2010). “What is sexual addiction?” Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 36(3), 261-275.

Myths and Misconceptions

  1. Reduced Sexual Performance:
    • A common myth is that masturbation can lead to reduced sexual performance, but no scientific evidence supports this claim. Healthy masturbation habits generally do not affect sexual performance.
    • Reference: Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., & Martin, C. E. (1948). “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.” Saunders.
  2. Infertility:
    • Another myth is that masturbation leads to infertility. There is no scientific evidence to support this; normal masturbation does not affect fertility.
    • Reference: Leivers, S., & Stevens, M. (2007). “Semen parameters and their impact on male fertility.” Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 19(3), 201-206.

Differences Between Male vs. Female Masturbation

Frequency: Research indicates that men tend to masturbate more frequently than women.

Techniques: Men and women often use different techniques due to anatomical differences. Men typically use hand stimulation, while women might use their hands, sex toys, or other methods to stimulate the clitoris or vagina.

Societal Attitudes: Societal and cultural attitudes towards masturbation can differ for men and women, often resulting in more stigma and shame associated with female masturbation.


  1. Herbenick, D., et al. (2010). “Sexual behavior in the United States: results from a national probability sample of men and women ages 14-94.” Journal of Sexual Medicine.
  2. Kontula, O., & Haavio-Mannila, E. (2003). “Masturbation in a generational perspective.” Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality.

How to Stop/Treat Compulsive Masturbation

  1. Identify Triggers: Recognize situations or emotions that lead to compulsive masturbation.
  2. Alternative Activities: Engage in other activities that provide fulfillment or distraction.
  3. Seek Support: Talk to a therapist or join a support group.
  4. Set Limits: Establish boundaries to reduce frequency.
  5. Practice Mindfulness: Techniques such as meditation can help manage urges.
  6. Professional Help: In severe cases, a mental health professional can provide therapy and, if necessary, medication.


Treatment for compulsive masturbation can involve cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to address underlying issues and develop healthier behaviors. In some cases, medication may be prescribed to manage obsessive-compulsive tendencies.


  1. Fagan, P. J., & Schmidt Jr, C. W. (1990). “Sexual Compulsivity: Biological Markers and Psychiatric Symptoms.” Psychiatric Clinics of North America.
  2. Kafka, M. P. (2010). “Hypersexual disorder: A proposed diagnosis for DSM-V.” Archives of Sexual Behavior.

While masturbation is a normal and generally healthy sexual activity, it is important to be aware of potential side effects, particularly if it becomes excessive or compulsive. Understanding these effects, supported by scientific references, helps to maintain a balanced perspective and promotes healthy sexual habits.

If you have concerns about masturbation and its impact on your life, consider speaking with a healthcare professional or a sex therapist. They can provide personalized advice and support.


Q: Does masturbation cause muscle loss?

A: No, masturbation does not cause muscle loss. Muscle mass is primarily influenced by factors such as regular physical exercise, adequate nutrition, and proper rest. Masturbation has no significant impact on these factors.

Q: How does masturbation affect testosterone levels?

A: Masturbation can cause temporary fluctuations in testosterone levels, but these changes are minor and do not have a lasting impact on overall testosterone levels or muscle mass.

Reference: Jiang, M., et al. (2003). “Sexual activity and serum testosterone level in men.” International Journal of Andrology, 26(6), 385-392.

Q: Can the energy expended during masturbation affect muscle mass?

A: The energy expended during masturbation is minimal and comparable to other mild physical activities. It is not enough to impact muscle mass or muscle maintenance significantly.

Reference: Herbenick, D., et al. (2010). “Sexual behavior in the United States: results from a national probability sample of men and women ages 14-94.” Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7(s5), 255-265.

Q: What are the main factors that influence muscle growth and maintenance?

A: The primary factors that influence muscle growth and maintenance include:

  • Physical Exercise: Regular resistance training and physical activity.
  • Nutrition: Adequate protein intake and balanced nutrition.
  • Rest and Recovery: Proper rest and recovery periods after exercise.

Reference: Phillips, S. M. (2004). “Protein requirements and supplementation in strength sports.” Nutrition, 20(7-8), 689-695.

Q: Is there any scientific evidence supporting the claim that masturbation causes muscle loss?

A: No, there is no scientific evidence supporting the claim that masturbation causes muscle loss. Research consistently shows that masturbation does not negatively impact muscle mass or overall physical health.

Reference: Zitzmann, M., & Nieschlag, E. (2001). “Sexuality in aging men.” International Journal of Andrology, 24(4), 202-212.

Q: Are there any negative side effects of masturbation that could indirectly affect muscle mass?

A: While excessive masturbation can potentially lead to issues such as skin irritation or psychological effects like guilt, it does not directly cause muscle loss. Any indirect effects on muscle mass would likely stem from neglecting exercise, poor nutrition, or inadequate rest, rather than the act of masturbation itself.

Q: What is testosterone, and why is it important?

A: Testosterone is a hormone primarily produced in the testicles in men and the ovaries in women, although it is present in both sexes. It plays a crucial role in developing male reproductive tissues, promoting secondary sexual characteristics, and maintaining muscle mass, bone density, and overall well-being.

Q: What are the natural ways to increase testosterone levels?

A: Several lifestyle changes and natural methods can help boost testosterone levels:

  1. Exercise and Lift Weights:
    • Regular physical activity, particularly resistance training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT), can significantly increase testosterone levels.
    • Reference: Vingren, J. L., et al. (2010). “Testosterone physiology in resistance exercise and training.” Sports Medicine, 40(12), 1037-1053.
  2. Consume a Balanced Diet:
    • Eating a diet rich in protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates can help maintain optimal hormone levels. Crucial nutrients include zinc and vitamin D.
    • Reference: Hwang, I., et al. (2010). “Effects of dietary zinc deficiency on testosterone levels and muscle mass in rats.” Nutrition Research and Practice, 4(5), 362-368.
  3. Get Enough Sleep:
    • Quality sleep is essential for maintaining healthy testosterone levels. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
    • Reference: Leproult, R., & Van Cauter, E. (2011). “Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men.” JAMA, 305(21), 2173-2174.
  4. Reduce Stress:
    • Chronic stress elevates cortisol levels, which can negatively impact testosterone. Stress reduction techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help.
    • Reference: Tomiyama, A. J., et al. (2011). “Associations of weight stigma with cortisol and oxidative stress independent of adiposity.” Health Psychology, 30(5), 524-531.
  5. Maintain a Healthy Weight:
    • Being overweight or obese is linked to lower testosterone levels. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can improve hormone levels.
    • Reference: Azziz, R., et al. (2009). “Impact of obesity on the male reproductive system.” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 94(9), 3283-3291.
  6. Limit Alcohol and Avoid Drugs:
    • Excessive alcohol and drug use can negatively impact testosterone levels. Moderation is key.
    • Reference: Emanuele, M. A., et al. (1998). “Alcohol and the male reproductive system.” Alcohol Health and Research World, 22(3), 195-201.

Q: Are there specific foods that can help increase testosterone?

A: Yes, certain foods can help boost testosterone levels:

  1. Lean Meats: High in protein and zinc.
  2. Fatty Fish: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.
  3. Eggs: Provide protein and cholesterol, a precursor for testosterone.
  4. Nuts and Seeds: Good sources of healthy fats and zinc.
  5. Cruciferous Vegetables: Like broccoli and cauliflower, which can help balance hormone levels.

Q: Can supplements help increase testosterone levels?

A: Some supplements can help, but it is essential to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any supplementation:

  1. Vitamin D: Known to help maintain optimal testosterone levels.
  2. Zinc: A mineral essential for testosterone production.
  3. Ashwagandha: An adaptogenic herb that may help reduce stress and increase testosterone.
  4. Fenugreek: A herb that may boost testosterone and improve libido.

Reference: Ahmad, M. K., et al. (2010). “Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males.” Fertility and Sterility, 94(3), 989-996.

Q: Are there medical treatments for low testosterone?

A: Yes, medical treatments are available for individuals with clinically low testosterone levels, including:

  1. Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT): Administered via injections, patches, gels, or pellets.
  2. Clomiphene Citrate: A medication that can stimulate the body to produce more testosterone.
  3. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG): Sometimes used to increase testosterone production.

These treatments should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Q: Does masturbation cause pimples?

A: No, masturbation does not cause pimples. This is a common myth, but there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that masturbation leads to acne.

Q: Does masturbation burn calories?

A: Yes, masturbation does burn calories, but the amount is relatively small.

Q: How many calories does masturbation burn?

A: The number of calories burned during masturbation varies depending on the intensity and duration. On average, it can burn around 3-5 calories per minute.

Q: Is masturbation an effective way to burn calories?

A: While masturbation does burn some calories, it is not a significant or effective method for weight loss or calorie burning compared to regular physical exercise.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Open chat