Masturbation & The Brain

Masturbation & The Brain



Masturbation is defined as:

  1. the stimulation or manipulation of one’s own genitals, especially to orgasm; sexual self-gratification.
  2. the stimulation, by manual or other means exclusive of sexual intercourse, of another’s genitals, especially to orgasm.

by the dictionary.

Most people define it as when one touches his/her genitals in order to sexually gratify  themselves. It is done by both men and women, alone or with a partner present. The general belief is that masturbation is done by people who do not have an active sex life.  The stats show that masturbation is an activity done by everyone including people who have an active sex life. 

Masturbation & The Myths

Most people presume that masturbation affects health in more ways than one. Therefore, let us try to first debunk the myths around masturbation effect on health – Some of the misconceptions and myths about masturbation are:

  1. It causes acne, blindness, insanity or excessive hair growth.
  2. It causes injury to the genitals.
  3. It affects a man’s sperm count and makes him infertile.
  4. It causes one to lose their virginity.
  5. It causes erectile dysfunction.

Masturbation & Religion

According to Kingsey Confidential different religions have different teachings on how acceptable masturbation and when it is regarded as a sin by each religion.

Reason: The Talmud forbids masturbation, citing the flood in the Noah story as punishing the world with liquid, a response to men who had sinned by wasting semen: “Anyone who holds his penis when he urinates is as though he brought the flood upon the world…” Another text in the Talmud compares masturbation to murder, saying that a man who masturbates “kills his own, and he spills very much blood.” Orthodox Judaism is relatively less condemning but continues to frown upon masturbation, describing it as a “heinous crime of the highest order, a moral waste of an opportunity to share and instead using that opportunity selfishly.” Conservative and Reform Judaism, however, view masturbation as acceptable as long as it is used as “a form of release, of sexual pleasure, and of learning about the body,” but note that it should not be done obsessively or as a substitute for a heterosexual relationship. The Talmud also allows for masturbation if it leads to married heterosexual intercourse.

Reason: In Catholicism, the church teaches that “the deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essential contrary to its purpose. For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.” However, if a woman cannot bring herself to orgasm during intercourse masturbation may be permissible.

Reason: Masturbation is not specifically mentioned in the the Quran but has caused debates among Islamic scholars regarding whether masturbation is simply discouraged, or forbidden. The act is seen as the “least of evils” by some, which one might result to in emergency situations where one might be tempted to commit adultery. Some other Islamic scholars have considered masturbation to be a minor issue.

Reason: Hinduism prohibits sex outside of marriage, but masturbation is a matter of interpretation. According to Hindu teachings “intensely personal matters of sex” are “left to the judgment of those involved… the only rigid rule is wisdom, guided by tradition and virtue…”

Reason:  Similar to other religions, masturbation has been discouraged in Buddhism, even though it was not mentioned by the Buddha. Buddhist teachings on masturbation range from prohibition, to acceptance for those who are not monks and are seeking temporary satisfaction. A key teaching of Buddhism is that suffering is caused by desire, which can inhibit spiritual growth. Thus, masturbation may be seen as not “sinful” per se in Buddhism, but an act that will ultimately result in continued suffering. Buddhism, like many other religious categories, includes many different traditions, resulting in myriad views. One author notes that “early Buddhist were determined and creative masturbators…” and in countries such as Japan, “wildly masturbating Buddhist nuns and monks frequently appear in Japanese erotic art.”

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Benefits of Masturbation

Negative Affects of Masturbation

Masturbation doesn’t appear to have any negative effects on sexual and general health.  The problem may lie in excessive masturbation and attitudes towards self pleasure. Stress from prolonged guilt, anxiety and depression can cause a decrease in testosterone levels in men. In these situations, abstinence may relieve such feelings and could then theoretically lead to a testosterone increase. 

Personal perceptions of masturbation can cause psychological effects that impact testosterone levels. A build-up of anxiety and depression can occur if someone has feelings of guilt following masturbation. This guilt could be based around feeling immoral, such as being unfaithful to a partner or having religious conflicts.

Mindful Masturbation

For many guys, masturbation is about focusing on one organ and getting the job done as quickly as possible. Mindful masturbating involves utilizing the entire body, and all senses according to sex therapist Chris Donaghue, Ph.D. and author of  Sex Outside the Lines.  Racing for the finish line is not the primary goal during this style of masturbation.

As well all know, mindfulness is the practice of becoming conscious and aware, of being present in the moment rather than distracted.  “When applied to the way we pleasure ourselves it can help us move beyond a quick session and into a much deeper connection with ourselves. Ultimately leading us to more pleasure, a greater understanding of our bodies. This can lead to  relaxation. Basically, it’s the real self-care we all need.

Mindful masturbation helps  to make sex better by broadening the mans horizons. When masturbation becomes so formulaic that we’re depending on certain habits and techniques every time, “it neurologically wires our body and arousal in a limited and rigid ways,” Donaghue says. Once this happens, masturbation may  become less satisfying by taking longer to reach the end result or the person may become less likely to achieve orgasm by any other means (example: sexual intercourse).

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