Masturbation FAQs

Bashing the bishop, spanking the monkey, jerking off - whatever you like to call it masturbation is a normal part of life.
What is masturbation?

It is rubbing your genitals - in your case, your penis - for sexual pleasure. Most men masturbate and, despite what they might say, so do many women. It's perfectly normal. After all, our genitals are part of our bodies and pretty important to our future relationships so it would be surprising if we weren't just a little curious about them.

Trying masturbating with your partner is a really good way to show each other what you like.

But isn't masturbation bad for you?

No. It is actually good for you. It will help you understand your body and your sexuality and what turns you on better. This may help you communicate with your partner more easily, enjoy sex more and avoid sex-related psychological problems. Frequent orgasms also help reduce the risk of prostate cancer while masturbation itself also reduces the likelihood of phimosis, a tightness of the foreskin. It can also cure a tight foreskin if you have that problem.

The need for sexual pleasure is a natural human need, the same as the need for food and drink. When the urge strikes better to masturbate than exploit someone else with a one—night stand or visit to a prostitute with all the problems, ethical as well as sexual, that these can pose.

So are there any dangers in masturbation? 

Your penis is a delicate body part. It is designed to go into other delicate body parts. Don't stick it in anything else or stick anything else into it. Your hand, some massage oil or baby oil and your imagination should provide all you need.

Nearly every casualty nurse has a story about a guy who claims to have been cleaning the house naked and have fallen over onto the vacuum cleaner with embarrassing results. None of the nurses believe these stories.

Don't stick things down your penis either. As anybody who has had a cystoscopy (an examination of the bladder using a scope inserted through the urethra, the tube down the middle of your penis) will tell you, it bloody hurts.

Anything that is pleasurable can become an addiction and masturbation is no different. If it begins to interfere with the rest of your life and you're becoming more interested in it than in real sexual relationships with real people, you need to be careful. If you can't stop, you need to.

There are organisations for people who are addicted in this way just as for other addictions such as Sexaholics Anonymous.

Is it OK to use pornography when you masturbate?

When you're a teenager looking at porn is part of a normal curiosity but using it when you're older depends on your view of the politics of porn.

It's true that many women enjoy pornography aimed at heterosexual men including even some of the women who appear in it. But as with prostitution this is not always the case and there is a lot of abuse of women in the porn industry. The problem is is that by definition, pornography exploits women by treating them as objects for sexual pleasure. Because you can't avoid that, you're probably better off skipping pornography if you can when masturbating as it may affect your attitudes to women and spoil your relationships with them.


We don't currently post comments online but are always keen to hear your feedback.

Date published 07/04/14
Date of last review 07/04/14
Date of next review 07/04/17


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