There are millions of men around the world keeping their masturbation secret, whether that’s through shame, fear, or old-school politeness.
While we wouldn’t recommend starting up conversations about masturbation with strangers, it’s important to be able to be open with partners or friends.
Firstly, because honesty around sex helps break the stigma that surrounds it. And secondly, because by casually discussing what you enjoy, you’ll feel more confident in the bedroom going forward.
There’s likely an element of not wanting to be considered ‘weird’ that puts men off talking about masturbating. What if you’ve somehow been doing it wrong all these years? Do you masturbate more than your peers? Nobody wants to be the outlier.
The myriad misconceptions and taboos attached to masturbation don’t help either.
According to a global survey by sex toy brand Arcwave, 47% of men never talk about masturbation. That’s nearly half missing out on the learning and laughs that can come from it.
So to help you feel more comfortable chatting about this often hush-hush topic, we’ve compiled the top questions that you’ve always wanted to know the answers to – and answered them.
Can you go blind from masturbating?
This is one of the most common old wives’ tales around, passed down through generations of teenage boys and making them too terrified to admit they masturbate.
Thankfully, it’s no more than an urban legend, and one that millions of self-pleasuring individuals with unaffected vision have proven wrong.
There was a case in 2014 whereby a man’s retina haemorrhaged after ‘vigorous’ sexual activity, however such injuries aren’t limited to sex and can be caused by anything that creates ‘excessive force’ on the eye.
Go easy on yourself to avoid any accidents, and point away from your eyes when you’re due to orgasm – a stray splatter won’t affect your long-term vision, but who wants to clean semen out of their eyes?!
Can you get addicted to masturbating?
While there’s no hard and fast rule saying how often men should masturbate, like anything enjoyable it can become addictive.
If masturbation is taking up a large amount of your time, affecting your work or relationships, or you find you’re more interested in solo sex than with a partner, you may be experiencing addiction.
Is there a ‘wrong’ way to masturbate?
Perhaps you like to wear a certain thing to get you in the mood for some alone time. Perhaps you prefer to use toys than your hand. Perhaps you enjoy a well-timed finger up the bum.
As they say, it’s different strokes for different folks, and there’s no right or wrong way to feel pleasure.
As long as you’re staying safe (not engaging in risky behaviours like autoerotic asphyxiation, for example) and ensuring others who may be involved (such as adult film actors or sexting partners) are consenting, you have nothing to worry about.
Will I lose sensitivity in my penis if I regularly masturbate?
This one is technically true. But don’t worry, your penis won’t turn completely numb and drop off every time you give yourself a hand.
According to Medical News Today, ‘excessive or vigorous’ masturbation can reduce the ‘perceived’ sensitivity in the penis.
They continue: ‘Hyperstimulation can reduce the sensitivity of the penis and cause a person to increase the force that they use during masturbation, which can make the issue worse.’
Over time, this can lead to an inability to orgasm (anorgasmia) during sex, as you become acclimated to the level of pressure you’ve built up to.
Switch up the sensation with sex toys, lube, or a looser grip and reduce the frequency of your masturbation. This should bring back your sensation.
Is it okay to use porn while I masturbate?
Feelings about pornography differ between person to person, affected by religious and cultural norms as well as personal preferences.
If you have a moral aversion to porn but continue to use it, this may lead to feelings of guilt or promote secretive habits (further impacting your view of masturbation as dirty or wrong).
There’s nothing inherently wrong with pornography, but if you’re struggling with your contribution to misogynist practices you should seek out ethically produced content where creators are fairly treated and paid.
It also should be kept at the forefront of your mind that porn isn’t real. Don’t bring an unrealistic set of expectations into your sexual relationships, and remember to prioritise mutual pleasure rather than acts that look good on camera.
If you find that you can’t become aroused or orgasm unless you’re looking at porn, this may be a sign of addiction.
Is it okay to not want to masturbate?
Men are often stereotyped as being sex-mad, but this is a lazy generalisation.
In reality, men have the same broad spectrum of desires and fears around sexuality, and there’s no such thing as ‘normal’.
Not wanting to masturbate may be a temporary thing or more long term. Issues around shame or previous trauma may be present, in which case it’s a good idea to seek help from a therapist or counsellor.
Aside from this, you may just prefer partnered sex to solo play, be busy with other things, or be on the spectrum of asexuality. Trust your desire and try to avoid doing anything merely because you think you should.
Can I catch an STI through masturbation?
If you don’t have a sexually transmitted infection, it’s impossible to contract one when having sex with only yourself.
However, some STIs are transmittable through skin-to-skin contact, so if you’re participating in mutual masturbation with someone else you could potentially be exposed to oral and genital herpes, HPV, and syphilis.
In rare cases, you can contract chlamydial conjunctivitis or gonococcal conjunctivitis through hand to eye contact. Effectively, if you’ve touched the bacteria and then touch your eye, you can be exposed to chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
To avoid any mishaps, wash your hands after masturbating – or just go it alone – and get regular check-ups at your local GUM clinic.
Smut Drop is a weekly podcast with hosts Jackie Adedeji and Miranda Kane from Metro.co.uk, touching on sex, dating and relationships.
With no holds barred, it’s the home of sex positive chat, where our hosts will be joined each week with sexperts and special guests to explore the world of the erotic.
And we want to hear from you, too! As part of our podcast we’ll be sharing listeners’ experiences, thoughts and questions on a different theme every week.
So if you want to be involved in something brilliant – either anonymously or using your bold and beautiful name – drop us an email to [email protected] or slide into our DMs on Twitter @smutdrop.
With new episodes dropping every Wednesday, you can download Smut Drop from all your usual places.
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