A man finds himself up late at night, ridden with fatigue and worry. He fears that in a moment of weakness, he caved in to his desires and is now suffering the consequences. His grave error? Masturbation.
Masturbation has been the centre of much taboo and many misconceptions. Masturbation is the act of touching oneself in a sexual manner for pleasure or sexual release. It is not restricted to adult men as many believe, adult women masturbate as well.
Married folks and the elderly do it too. Teens and children have been observed to engage in it, however, children are driven to do this more from a self-exploratory point of view than sexual.
There are too many myths surrounding the effects of masturbation. Some extremely bizarre ones include believing that it causes blindness or makes hair grow on your palms. Contrary to these demonizing myths, masturbation is completely healthy and can benefit you mentally and physically.
What is masturbation good for? Absolutely everything
Apart from the obvious orgasmic benefits, masturbation has a positive effect on sleep, stress and has been shown to alleviate menstrual cramps in women. Mentally, it improves self-esteem, can help one become more comfortable in their skin and relieves sexual tension.
Although masturbation is most often a solitary activity, it can improve oneâ€™s sex life. It helps one in getting to know what their body likes during sexual activity and is a great way to get sexual pleasure without a partner. It helps one relieve sexual tension, to achieve an orgasm and beat the stress of daily life and relax.
Couples may engage in mutual masturbation which includes both masturbating in front of each other and touching each otherâ€™s privates to achieve orgasm. This is a great way to have sexual pleasure without intercourse and can be a way to avoid STDs or an unwanted pregnancy.
How and how much is too much?
Apart from the manual stimulation of genitals, people masturbate using pretty much anything. There are vibrators and fleshlights specifically designed for masturbation.
And then there is the use of household items from pillows to hand faucets to sitting on a washing machine for women. One can also use visual stimuli by watching a pornographic film or reading a naughty comic. For some, some imagination and fantasy serves the purpose, and remember, sex is as much about the brain as it is about your organs.
Also read: Your most powerful sexual organ is not down there, but between your ears
The common question surrounding masturbation is how much is too much.
Does masturbating every day or many times a day make you an addict? The answer is the same for anything.
As long as it is not interfering with your everyday life, you can masturbate as much as you like. But if youâ€™re taking a day off to masturbate or are masturbating compulsively, you might want to see counsellor. If it is no longer driven by pleasure seeking, then one needs to question if it is going down the route of compulsion.
Masturbation as a pathology and medication
In the Victorian era, women were prescribed masturbation to treat hysteria.
Today, masturbation is used to treat sexual dysfunctions including premature ejaculation and some prostrate conditions. It is also prescribed for women who have anorgasmia, a condition where they are unable to reach orgasms.
Masturbation can sometimes lead to sexual problems when there is a mismatch between fantasy (which can get solidified by porn addiction) and reality with a partner. Also, if masturbation is a learnt behaviour where one hurries or rushes, it can lead to early ejaculation in men. There is an anecdote of a group of young boys who would masturbate in a circle with the winner being the one who â€˜comes quicklyâ€™. Alas, the champion went on to develop premature ejaculation as an adult!
Sometimes, men are used to a certain kind of stimulation on the penis (for example rubbing against the pillow or vigorous movement) during masturbation. If this is not replicated with their partners, it can lead to problems in arousal or in reaching orgasm.
There are so many myths around masturbation. Debunking them is especially difficult because the subject is still considered taboo. In India where we have only just started talking about menstruation, masturbation is still thought of as dirty and offensive.
An ancient Indian belief states that it takes 40 drops of blood to make a drop of bone marrow and 40 drops of bone marrow to make a drop of semen. Semen is considered a vital fluid and discharge of it by masturbation is seen as wastage. This belief has led to the culturally bound syndrome called the Dhat syndrome.
â€˜Dhat syndromeâ€™ is still commonly seen by Psychiatrists in the Indian subcontinent. Young men report weakness in the body and difficulty in concentrating. They attribute it to â€˜loss of vitality due to masturbationâ€™.
Psychosomatic in nature, it is found in the Indian subcontinent and is treated through cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling and in some cases, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication.
So spank the monkey, embrace feminism and solo sex it up. The only thing that masturbation really does is give you a good nightâ€™s rest when youâ€™re alone and a good nightâ€™s best when youâ€™ve got company!
This is a part of the Sexual Health series bought to you by The News Minute in association with Happy Relationships. Happy Relationships is an enterprise that works in the field of sexual health and relationship wellness.