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What You Must Know About Masturbation: Expert Advice

Dr. Rajan B. Bhonsle explains all the ifs and buts about masturbation.

What You Must Know About Masturbation: Expert Advice

It is harmless and has no ill effects on one's body, sexuality and fertility

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Masturbation helps relieve sexual tension
  2. It can be harmful if it causes injury to an organ
  3. It should not become an obesession

Self-stimulation of the genital organs for sexual pleasure is called masturbation. It is a physiologically harmless activity. Contrary to common beliefs, it is not a hazardous, corrupt or sinful activity either for men or for women. It is natural and normal. Most boys and many girls discover masturbation during their adolescence and practice it frequently. It is harmless and has no ill effects on one's body (health), sexuality or fertility - even though there are many myths and misconceptions that warn of dangers. As a matter of fact, it is a safe and simple method of relieving sexual tension. However, the feeling of guilt, shame, worry, and conflict associated with masturbation can be detrimental to one's emotional health and self-esteem.

There is absolutely no 'numerical' safety limit to how many times in a day a person should or can practice masturbation. It is a matter of concern only when masturbation becomes a continuous preoccupation and is so frequent that it significantly starts interfering with other aspects of the person's life. For instance, if a young man/woman defocuses from his/her career or academics or stops socialising because all s/he wants to do is masturbate, s/he may lose out on career opportunities and/or become socially withdrawn, which can create its own problems. Otherwise, pleasuring oneself through masturbation is absolutely safe.

Understanding masturbation

There is absolutely nothing wrong if adolescent boys or girls masturbate. Practically all growing adolescent boys masturbate. It is an absolutely harmless act. It helps them to organise their sexual urges and patiently wait for a heterosexual encounter while they are still growing towards becoming responsible and mature men.

Medical science has proved that masturbation has no ill effects on one's health, growth, fertility or sexual strength. It is only when the child is made to feel either guilty or fearful about the act, that it weakens them psychologically and affects their self-image.

Many adults have a certain bias about sexual expression, which fills them with 'disgust'. There is nothing disgusting about self-pleasuring (through masturbation) in one's privacy without involving anyone else. At the age when secondary sexual characteristics are developing in boys as well as girls as an inevitable process of nature, they can find no better outlet than masturbation to vent their sexual urges. Such behaviour is a manifestation of them growing independent, which is a signal to parents that they are no more your 'baby-boys' or 'baby-girls' dependent on you for all their needs. Parents need to learn to respect their children's growing independence and individuality and love them for being normal, growing, independent individuals.

Masturbation is common during adolescence. It is necessary that we actively educate children about masturbation, while explaining to them that it is a natural form of release for pent-up sexual tension in the absence of a sexual partner. Boys need to be given the example of the pressure cooker mechanism, which requires the release of steam so that there is no explosion because of accumulated steam.

This can prevent irresponsible sexual experimentation, which results in unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections especially HIV, which leaves the teenager physically devastated and psychologically destabilised.

Masturbation is considered abnormal or harmful only in the following situations:

1. If it is done in front of others

2. If proper hygiene is not maintained during or after the act

3. If it is done in a manner that can cause injury to the organ

4. If it becomes an obsession and starts affecting other aspects of one's life like career, education, relationships etc.

5. If it is chosen over intercourse in married couples, even when the spouse is available and willing to have intercourse.

Benefits of masturbation

1. It helps to relieve 'sexual tension' and helps individuals become more comfortable with their own sexuality.

2. Masturbation gives the person sexual gratification while alone, without engaging in risky sexual activities with others. Thus, it does not carry the risks of unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.

3. Through masturbation, an individual can recognise and learn how s/he likes to be touched and pleasured. Once in a committed sexual relationship, the person can share this information with his/her partner to enhance pleasure and satisfy each other.

4. Masturbation with the stop-start technique (withholding stimulation just prior to ejaculation, then stimulating oneself again once the orgasmic feeling is subsided) can help men improve their ejaculatory control.

Some people do not want to masturbate for cultural, religious or even personal reasons. This is absolutely fine too. If one is not comfortable with masturbation, one can still have a normal, healthy and gratifying sex life.

(Dr. Rajan B. Bhonsle Professor and Head of the Department of Sexual Medicine at K.E.M. Hospital and Seth G.S.Medical College, Mumbai)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.



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