Masturbation refers to sexual arousal (and often orgasm as well) by manual stimulation of the genitals.
Generally, the word indicates self-stimulation. But it’s worth noting that in 2010 some sexologists use the expression to indicate pleasuring of another person by hand, in phrases such as ‘the husband can masturbate the wife to help her achieve a climax’. However, in this article we shall deal only with self-stimulation.
This is the form of sexual behaviour that most of us learn first – quite instinctively. And, until recently, it was probably the type of sex least talked about.
In fact, in the early part of the last century: masturbation was widely considered to be a sin – and something to be avoided at all costs.
Gradually, society became more tolerant of it as an activity, but it still had shameful connotations and was generally seen as a bit sad. Even in 2010, there are loads of bad jokes or disparaging remarks featuring the word ‘wanker’, which is of course a slang word for masturbator.
Till far into the 20th century, there were many doctors, educators and youth leaders who strongly disapproved of masturbation, and who wrote books which claimed that it had terrible health consequences – like insanity! This was all nonsense.
But until around the 1960s, there were youth leaders and pundits who advised people to avoid masturbation. They suggested that it was immature or undesirable and that if someone got fixated on it, they might not learn more ‘grown up’ responses.
Nowadays, experts have a completely different view of masturbation – and a very much more positive one. One of the reasons for this is the big change in people’s lifestyles.
In this 21st century, most of us can expect to have a much more changeable and flexible life than our grandparents did. We will live longer and we’ll almost certainly have far more sexual and co-habiting relationships.
But between these relationships we will find ourselves returning to single status. During these single periods, we’ll most probably continue to have normal sex drives – and the most obvious form of sexual relief and satisfaction available to us at those times will be masturbation.
So, masturbation needs to be seen in this modern context, and viewed as an activity that is pleasant, fulfilling, acceptable, normal – and very safe.
In fact, masturbation is the safest form of sex there is, and much safer – and often more satisfying – than one-night stands.
The only time masturbation isn’t safe is on those rare occasions when young men (or occasionally women) decide to experiment by masturbating with potentially harmful objects – such as a vacuum cleaner! This is extremely dangerous and definitely not to be recommended.
Men and masturbation
The vast majority of men masturbate sometimes – even if they’re in a long-term and happy sexual relationship.
It’s most common if they’re away somewhere on a trip and have been without female company for a while.
Masturbation comes pretty naturally to most men. Let’s face it: a male child discovers that his penis feels good before he can talk!
So, it’s not surprising that boys fondle this area of their bodies a lot, and then, at the age of around 14, discover that masturbation can lead to orgasm and ejaculation – all of which they find exciting and pleasurable.
There are some men who don’t masturbate. But these are mainly men who don’t want to do it because of religious reasons or because they’re a bit uptight about sex. Also, some guys who have a fairly low sex drive don’t masturbate.
Some men – mostly from eastern cultures – try to avoid masturbating because they believe it depletes their energy and may shorten their lives. But there’s no truth whatsoever in this belief.
Most men masturbate by rubbing the penis with their ‘dominant’ hand – slowly at first and then more vigorously.
Many guys grasp the shaft of their penis by wrapping their whole hand round it. Others grasp it between their thumb and first or middle finger.
But however they do it, they don’t usually have much doubt that they’ll achieve orgasm as a result. This is quite a contrast to women, who may experience considerable anxiety about whether they will actually ‘make it’.
Some young men worry that they masturbate too much. The fact is that it’s almost impossible to do this.
Obviously, if a young guy is staying home and masturbating on the hour every hour, one might want to try to persuade him to get out more!
But when a teenager first discovers sex, it’s common for him to want to masturbate several times a day, on some days. And this certainly won’t do him any harm.
But masturbating constantly over a period of hours can produce some swelling or ‘puffiness’ of this penis. This is called ‘oedema’ and is due to fluid leaking into the tissues. It will disappear after some hours because the fluid goes back into the bloodstream.
Other boys will masturbate quite rarely, especially if they don’t have a high sex drive. But this is normal for them.
Some men in their 70s and 80s are still masturbating several times a week. But in general terms, men masturbate most in their teens and gradually do it less and less as their life progresses – depending partly on whether or not they have a partner at the time.
As we have already indicated, many men still like to masturbate even when they’re involved with a partner. They often feel that the orgasm they achieve through masturbation is less complex and more locally intense than climaxes achieved through sexual intercourse.
Furthermore, they can control the pressure and speed of movement very accurately.
In recent years, we have encountered a number of couples who achieve considerable satisfaction through the woman watching the man masturbate in front of her (or vice versa). Also, this practice is certainly helpful when – for some medical reason – intercourse is difficult or impossible.
Male masturbation and its use in helping sex problems
Two of the common sex problems that men experience can be helped to some extent by masturbating.
Premature ejaculation (PE), which is a condition where the man ejaculates too quickly whilst he’s having sex with a partner, is an enormously common problem.
PE usually needs some sort of specialist help, but some men are able to help themselves to some degree by gaining more control over their climaxes, while masturbating.
For such a man, he should practise beginning to masturbate and allow himself to get almost to the point of no return. But he should then stop and calm down a bit, before carrying on.
If a man can do this several times before giving in and having a climax, it may well help him to develop the necessary control he’s been lacking to delay his climax during intercourse – especially if he practises this stop-start technique on a regular basis.
The other male sex problem that can be helped to some extent by masturbation is ‘delayed ejaculation’, ‘ejaculatory incompetence’ or as it’s also called, ‘retarded ejaculation’.
When men have this particular problem they can maintain an erection for a long time during sex, but they can’t relax enough to let go and climax inside their partner.
Many such men are quite uptight about sex. And if they can learn to masturbate with their partner, this can help them a great deal.
Again this is a problem that needs specialist help. But if a man can first of all learn to masturbate in the next room to his partner and then after a week or so manage to do it the same room, they will both feel he is making progress.
Eventually, he should be able to masturbate right beside her and in time masturbate so close to her that he can place his penis into her vagina at the crucial moment.