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We don't talk about it much, but masturbation is something many people of all ages indulge in. It's a shared interest that is not often shared, and that means there are a lot of rumours and myths about it, one being that masturbation will kill off your erections and that too much masturbation can make you blind! Or that it may be good for them, who knows? It seems nobody's quite sure of what the true facts are.
Here are the pros and cons regarding male masturbation, so you can make up your own mind.
Not those who have perfected their technique, but the positives of having a spot of 'special alone time'. Most experts and non-experts agree that masturbation is generally healthy and safe, but what is it doing for your erectile abilities?
Solo fun teases out an erection, which keeps nerve endings, blood vessels and tissues functioning. This is important for men who are aging as getting older can reduce some sexual functions. It helps to ensure that your tool is in perfect working condition prior to sexual intercourse. It's kind of like keeping the motor running in an old car.
If your stress levels begin to build up masturbation can help to relieve it. This is because masturbating ensures that you are only focusing one thing. This is explained further by Judith Golden, a registered sex therapist from Toronto who states; 'As we think about sex in any form, dopamine, a chemical released by the brain that gives us a sense of pleasure, is released.' She follows this up by saying 'As we engage in sexual activity, another chemical, endorphins, is released. Endorphins give us a sense of well-being.'
"For the vast majority of men, masturbation is a healthy thing. I'm usually more concerned about a guy who's stopped masturbating, which can be a sign of anxiety or health problems, than a guy who's doing it regularly." Ian Kerner, PhD, a sex therapist and author of She Comes First
For men concerned about erectile dysfunction, masturbation can be a useful tool because it's positive proof of achieving and maintaining an erection. If it's physically possible to do it alone, it's possible with a partner. Lack of erections can often be down to performance anxiety but masturbation is proof you can do it once you've sorted that out.
Practice makes perfect - there are masturbation techniques to help you slow down ejaculation, such as reaching a point of orgasm and retreating. This kind of masturbation is practically therapy and can improve your sex life.
There are some studies that show a build-up of seminal fluid can lead to prostate problems in men such as organ-hardening (boom! no pun intended) and cancer. Masturbation releases these fluids, which can help to improve your chances of avoiding these health concerns.
One of the problems with masturbation is that it feels considerably different to sex.
Self-pleasuring means there is no one else to consider, the sensations are specifically good for you, and you can race to the finish. Sex is different. It's shared, and a lot of masturbation can alter how your brain and penis react to real-life sex with a partner.
Masturbation doesn't strengthen the penis; in fact it may cause weakness in the structural muscles that support it during sex. Also, because your penis isn't being properly exercised it can cause a feeling of numbness or weakness in the penis during sexual intercourse.
When people frequently masturbate to porn it can cause a problem because subtle brain chemical changes lead to porn addiction. Sexual arousal releases dopamine - the human pleasure hormone. Excessive dopamine means the brain becomes desensitised and this can lead to a need for more extreme porn to reach previous levels of excitement. Essentially, too much porn can cause a man's brain to become confused during intimate sex with a partner.
Men can become intimidated by a male porn star's prowess and assume that's standard sex. His penis size, the amount of time sex lasts, and acts a woman performs on screen are porn, not sex. The two can become mixed up and create performance anxiety.
If a man has been frequently masturbating and then loses his erection during sex, he might assume solo fun caused it - he's overused his penis. It's more likely that anxiety over masturbation has caused an erection problem, which of course leads to anxiety the next time and so on.
It should be noted that relying on masturbation as an escape from stress too often can lead to it becoming an addiction. Masturbating can help to make a particularly bad day a little better, but it's important to remember that moderation is key.
Masturbation feels good. Do it if you enjoy it, but it's important to remember that as with all things in life, don't do it to excess.
If you think you have an addiction to masturbation, perhaps it's interfering with your life, then it's important to talk to someone. Your doctor can help you to cut the amount of masturbating you do down. If you've been using too much porn don't panic, go cold turkey and eventually your brain will forget the stimulation and return to its previous state. Medical experts believe that this takes around three months.
A little bit of what you fancy is good for you, like a Victoria sponge cake on the weekend. There's no scientific evidence that definitively states that masturbation leads to erection problems, it won't fall off and you won't go blind, not unless you're spending hours each day watching porn on your tiny phone screen. In fact, regular masturbation may help keep your nerve endings and prostate in good working order.
So, in order to successfully prevent erectile problems, such as erectile dysfunction simply cut back on the amount of masturbating you do before it becomes it becomes too much of a reliance and causes performance anxiety when having sex.