Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 6/23/2021
For some hands-on fun, masturbation is an activity just about everyone can get into.
Like most pleasurable pursuits, you can masturbate for just about any reason — to relieve stress, for self-exploration or even to ease some sexual tension.
While solo fun can sometimes be the best kind of fun, this hasn't stopped people from questions about the safety of routinely masturbating — and that’s fair.
In this guide, we'll be checking what science has to say about masturbation and your well-being.
We'll be looking at benefits and myths about this act, as well as any possible side effects you should know about before engaging in a little DIY down under.
Beyond being a fun way to feel more comfortable with your body, masturbating has benefits that cut across improved wellness and sexual performance. They include:
Men who make use of self-pleasuring devices such as vibrators are more likely to perform testicular self-exams. This is useful for the early detection of conditions like testicular cancer.
Self-stimulation before sleep may be an effective way to improve the quality and length of your rest.
Achieving orgasm through sexual activities like masturbation can help produce feel-good hormones like dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.
Masturbating with a partner can also help to encourage closeness in a relationship, and can help explore each other’s sexual preferences.
There are some anecdotal reports that masturbation may also help with relieving stress and promoting relaxation.
If its benefits are anything to go by, there’s a lot of good to be enjoyed when you take self-pleasure seriously.
However, this raises the question of whether or not masturabtion can be too much of a good thing when done excessively. So, how often should a man ejaculate or masturbate?
For the most part, you have all the freedom in the world to explore your body and preferred pleasure spots without worrying about any damaging side effects.
However, while masturbation is largely free of adverse effects, there is a chance that routinely giving yourself a hand could compromise the quality of your sperm.
We should, however, note that this reduction in quality isn’t likely to affect chances of fertility, or other expected physical traits of sperm.
On the psychological side of things however, masturbation may not be as harmless.
There is a possible link between enjoying masturbation so much, regular intercourse starts to seem less satisfying. This practice could also affect how much contentment you derive from life.
Likewise, depending on your religion or cultural upbringing, you could find yourself dealing with masturbatory guilt when you indulge in solo-play.
In some cases, this guilt can be so consuming, it may even lead to severe depression.
Additionally, and perhaps most obviously, excessive masturbation can lead to irritation, redness, swelling and even raw, chapped skin — especially if you’re doing it without proper lubrication.
Masturbation marathons may not be the best idea for your mental health, but this doesn't automatically spell danger for other parts of your well being.
If you've been taking matters into your own hands for a long time, then you've probably heard masturbation linked to everything from sensory damage to difficulties achieving or maintaining erections.
These conditions include:
There have been claims that getting a little too close and personal with yourself may leave a literal blind spot in your vision.
However, while very rare cases of sexual activity have led to a condition called valsalva retinopathy, which can lead to vision loss in one or both eyes, excess masturbation hasn’t been directly fingered as a recognized cause of this condition.
Another popular claim suggests that laying your hands on yourself can leave you with the mark of the best: hairy palms.
However, it’s safe to assume this is merely an old wives’ tale.
If you check out the causes of infertility, you’ll find a handful of potential causes.
There’s no shortage of literature exploring things like hyperthyroidism, genetics, sexual dysfunctions like premature ejaculation or even certain fungal infections that may, at least in part, affect your fertility.
But one thing you’re least likely to discover is masturbation, because it has no effects on your fertility, nor does it decrease your testosterone.
If you frequently masturbate, and just so happen to experience difficulty with achieving and maintaining your erections, it’s understandable to draw a link between both events.
However, medical examinations carried out on men with similar complaints typically find the usual suspect in cases of ED to be a factor such as performance anxiety.
While masturbation may not play a role in erectile dysfunction, it could affect your ability to get up and go for another round of sex.
For more information, read our guide: Can Masturbation Cause ED? What You Need to Know.
No matter how much your partner may be brimming to go, it’s often difficult to set up a second round right after finishing up a round of sex or masturbation.
This is because of a little thing called the refractory period.
This period of time follows orgasm and ejaculation, where the idea of sex suddenly becomes very unappealing.
This happens post-coitus and is no different after masturbation has occurred. It is also known as resolution.
The refractory period isn’t a form of erectile dysfunction so much as your body asking for a small time-out to regroup before jumping back into the saddle again.
People are different, so it’s hard to pick a set time for how long the refractory period lasts. However, they may last up to 10 or 15 minutes after orgasm is reached.
If you’re not happy with having to wait too long and would like to speed things up a little bit, certain ED medications have been found to help with speeding up the refractory period.
Read our guide on the refractory period to learn more about this state of affairs.
To get you up and running after masturbating or having intercourse, PDE-5 inhibitors — popular treatment options for erectile dysfunction — may be able to speed things up.
In addition to helping improve erectile function, oral PDE-5 inhibitors have been shown to reduce the refractory period in regular, every day men. Or, in this context, those men without erectile dysfunction.
These medications include:
If you’re looking to reduce the time spent between sessions, we offer several erectile dysfunction medications, plus their generic alternatives.
However, you’ll need to be screened by a healthcare professional, first.
Masturbation makes for some of the most fun you can have all by yourself.
While this practice is safe both alone or in the company of a preferred partner, enjoying self-pleasuring in moderation may be advisable.
It’ll help avoid getting a little too used to having fun by yourself, developing other psychological complications from repeated sessions or even causing physical discomfort and irritation.
If you frequently get busy by yourself, you may also want to check out our guide on the links between masturbation, porn and erectile dysfunction.