Masturbation Myths Debunked.
Masturbation has been falsely tied to sexual and other health problems. Find out the truth about the most common masturbation myths. Masturbation is a natural physical function - "as natural as going to the bathroom or breathing air," says Susan Kellogg Spadt, PhD, RN, director of sexual medicine at the Pelvic & Sexual Health Institute in Philadelphia. However, there's a social stigma surrounding masturbation that has led to numerous masturbation myths. Here's an overview of those masturbation myths, as well as reliable sexual health information to debunk them.
Masturbation myth: Excessive masturbation can lead to erectile dysfunction. Reality: "Erectile dysfunction does not result from masturbation," Spadt says. "What can happen with either sex is they masturbate frequently and become used to a certain touch, be it vibration or one's own hand." Because of this, she says, "they may become habituated to that sensation and find it more difficult to have an orgasm with their partner."
Masturbation myth: People in relationships don't masturbate. Reality: According to the Kinsey Institute, 92 percent of men and 62 percent of women masturbate. "People masturbate whether they are in relationships or single," says Justine Marie Shuey, PhD, sexuality educator and a board-certified sexologist in Camden, N.J. "People often get jealous when their partners masturbate because they feel it's cheating or their partner is masturbating because they aren't good enough. What you need to realize is that people have different levels of sexual desire - all are totally healthy and normal, and some involve masturbation."
Masturbation myth: Masturbation will make you go blind. Reality: "Many myths about masturbation, such as this one, come from beliefs back when people believed sex was only meant for procreation," Stuey says. Because masturbation isn't for procreation, it was considered problematic. "People also believed sex could lead to insanity, tuberculosis, hairy palms, and death," she says. "Obviously, none of these things are true," she says.
Masturbation myth: Masturbation is not a normal part of sexual development. Reality: "Individuals are sexual beings from birth to death," Shuey says. An analysis of data on sexual behavior involving more than 800 teenagers ages 14 to 17 who responded to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behaviour showed that nearly three-quarters of boys and almost half of girls reported having masturbated.
Masturbation myth: There are no health benefits to masturbation. Reality: "Masturbation has a number of health benefits," Stuey says. "They include better sleep, reduced stress and tension, fewer headaches, improved concentration, increased self-esteem, a more youthful appearance, and better fitness." There are also a number of specific sexual health benefits for women, particularly in older women, including less vaginal dryness and pain during sex.
Masturbation myth: Children don't engage in masturbation. Reality: Masturbation is perfectly healthy at any age. "It may not be masturbation as we know it, but even little kids touch and explore their genitals because it feels good," Stuey says. "There are even ultrasound images where we can see masturbation occurring in utero." According to Planned Parenthood, experts recommend that parents teach young children that touching their sex organs for pleasure is a normal part of sexual health, but that it should be done in private.
Masturbation myth: You can masturbate too much. Reality: According to the American Psychological Association, masturbation is only considered "too much" if it gets in the way of daily activities, such as going to school or work or meeting friends.
Masturbation Myth: People only engage in masturbation when they are alone. Reality: "Some people masturbate together, and they incorporate masturbation into their sexual repertoires," Spadt says. Some couples enjoy watching each other masturbate, and some like to masturbate themselves to orgasm after other forms of sexual contact. "Mutual masturbation" is also a great way to have safe sex and prevent unwanted pregnancy.
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