Physicians have completely reversed their beliefs about masturbation over the past few
centuries. Masturbation, In the 18th and 19th century, was
incorrectly linked to "general debility, consumption, deterioration of
eyesight, disturbance of the nervous system, and so on...Polluting and
debilitating for the individual, it had a destabilizing effect on society, as it
prevented healthy sexual desire from fulfilling socially desirable
ends--marriage and procreation, which was the foundation of the social order." 1
Alex McKay, research coordinator for the Sex Information and Education
Council of Canada commented that many people currently feel guilty about
masturbation: "The reason is that sex is supposed to be geared towards
reproduction, and masturbation is about as far away from that as you can
get...There is now a wide-ranging consensus among health professionals from all
disciplines that masturbation is psychologically healthy and something most
people do." Sex therapists Bill and Carolyn Chernenkoff from Saskatoon,
SK, promote both mutual and private "self-stimulation." They
say there's nothing more healthy for hormone-crazed teenagers than masturbation.
If the kids are engaging in masturbation, then they won't be practicing sexual
intercourse to the same degree, and risk catching STDs or becoming pregnant. 2
R. Jandl commented in an "Ask the Doctors" column
masturbation has a number of benefits:
It enables the playing out of pleasurable sexual fantasies.
It releases sexual tension and often produces a pleasant, tranquil feeling.
It helps a person become more comfortable with their own sexuality.
It is an enjoyable experience when shared with a partner.
It can curb impulses to have inappropriate sex with someone. 3
Other Internet and text references list additional benefits associated with masturbation:
No one gets pregnant by masturbating.
It helps maintain good pelvic blood flow and strong pc muscles.
It is safe. One cannot be infected with STDs during solitary masturbation.
It's great for stress relief.
It can help you sleep.
It can temporarily relieve menstrual cramps in women.
A person who masturbates can learn about the sexual responses of their own body, and thus be better
prepared for sexual activity with a partner at a later time.
Some negative factors have been cited:
Among males, frequent and vigorous masturbation can produce skin abrasions. This can be
avoided by using a lubricant such as KY jelly, Aqua-Lube, saliva or even soap and water.
It does take time away from other activities. Some younger teenagers masturbate a few
times a day.
Prolonged sexual arousal in males without an ejaculation can cause pain due to blood
congestion in the genital area. This is often called "blue balls". It is easily
avoided by masturbating until ejaculation and orgasm occur.
People can and do masturbate throughout their lifetime without any deleterious side effects.
Study leader Graham Giles and team, of the Cancer Council Victoria, in
Melbourne, Australia completed a study of 2,338 Australian men, of whom 1,079
had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The remainder were free
of the disease. He said: "What we found was men who ejaculated most (more
than five times a week) in their 20s, 30s and 40s had about a third less
prostate cancer risk than men in the lowest category of ejaculation...Semen
is a very potent and strong brew of lots of chemicals which, because of their
biological reactivity, could be carcinogenic if left to lie around." The
precise reason why masturbation appears to give partial immunity to prostate
cancer is unknown. Giles speculates that: "It's a prostatic stagnation
hypothesis...The more you flush the ducts out, the less there is to hang around
and damage the cells that line them." Other researchers suggests it frequent
masturbation allows cells in the organ to become more cancer-resistant. The
findings were published in the British Journal Of Urology International.
However, the researchers found that this reduction in the occurrence of
prostate cancer was only related to masturbation. They found that men who had
orgasms during sex with many women
benefit with a lower risk for prostate cancer. 4
Dr. Ira Sharlip, a San Francisco urologist and sexual medicine expert, urges
caution on interpreting the Australian research. It is only a single study. It
needs to be replicated by others to make certain that the effect is real. He
called the concept that health might be improved through masturbation "dynamite."
Sharlip said that if doctors tell young men that the risk of prostate cancer
later in life is reduced if they masturbate, "that would be one hell of a
message. That's going to give everybody a license to have a lot of sex." 5
Edward Shorter, history of medicine professor at the University of Toronto and author of a forthcoming book on the history of sexuality said: "This
sounds like one of the few good things that anybody's had to say about
masturbation in two centuries."
Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, who called masturbation "the primary sexual
activity of mankind", once observed that "in the 19th century it was a
disease; in the 20th, it's a cure." 6
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men, exceeded
only by skin cancer. Just under 30,000 American men are expected to die from the
disease in 2003.
Fortunately, a second study has confirmed the link between masturbation
and lower prostate cancer rates. An article published in the Journal of the
American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2004-APR studied nearly 30,000 mostly
white men from 1992 to 2000. They reported that:
"...men who reported frequent ejaculation over their lifetime -
that's more than four to seven times per month, in case you're counting
- had fewer overall cases of prostate cancer than those who ejaculated
"And those tireless individuals averaging 21 or more ejaculations a
month over their lifetime showed only half the risk for developing the
Judy Gerstel, "Masturbation has come a long way to be okay. Ejaculation
a day may keep prostate cancer at bay. Once a reviled practice, it's now
valued as a virtue," The Toronto Star, 2003-JUL-18, at: http://www.thestar.com/