Tag: Masturbation

Masturbation and Sexual Health

A well known piece of advice from urologists for men with recurring or chronic prostatitis and/or who might be at increased risk of developing prostate cancer is to have more ejaculations by masturbating.

From the New Scientist Print Edition (16 July 03):

“It will make you go blind. It will make your palms grow hairy. Such myths about masturbation are largely a thing of the past. But the latest research has even better news for young men: frequent self-pleasuring could protect against the most common kind of cancer.

A team in Australia led by Graham Giles of The Cancer Council Victoria in Melbourne asked 1079 men with prostate cancer to fill in a questionnaire detailing their sexual habits, and compared their responses with those of 1259 healthy men of the same age. The team concludes that the more men ejaculate between the ages of 20 and 50, the less likely they are to develop prostate cancer….”

Masturbation is perhaps the singular sexual activity in which almost all of us participate and about which almost none of us speak. It wears a shroud of shame and silence. Many believe it is an infantile activity, to be replaced with the more ‘mature’ intercourse as soon as adulthood is reached. Masturbation guru Dr Betty Dodson has this to say about masturbation:

“Sex will change throughout your life. After hot, romantic sex, there will be the sweetness of early married sex, the mystical quality of procreative sex, and the comfort—or boredom—of long-term monogamous sex. Most of you will get divorced and have another phase of hot romantic sex, and run the cycle again. Those of you who are lesbian or gay will follow a similar pattern. A few of you might go on to explore sex in depth, getting beyond conventional sex roles and labels, and experiencing bisexual threesomes and group sex. But take note! The most consistent sex will be your love affair with yourself. Masturbation will get you through childhood, puberty, romance, marriage, and divorce, and it will see you through old age.”

How fortuitous that the Giles study now reinforces the value of masturbation. Regardless of our societal attitudes, we must now admit that regular self-pleasuring ensures good prostate health. We’ve known since the 1940s, when Dr. Alfred Kegel developed pubococcygeal (PC) muscle exercises to counteract incontinence in middle-aged women, that PC muscle strength also enhances women’s orgasmic response. In other words, masturbation is good for all humans, at all stages of life. Research now confirms that our genitor-urinary health depends upon it.

Perhaps we shrink from embracing masturbation because we believe we are not entitled to sexual pleasure unless someone else gives it to us, thus relieving us of personal responsibility. This excuse explains not using safer sex techniques, poor judgment in our sexual behaviour, and a host of interpersonal miscommunications. Many unnecessarily forego the gratification of vibrators and other sex toys to protect their partners’ egos. Such unnecessary inhibitions!

Masturbation is natural, normal, and (now we know) healthy. Almost all of us do it. We need, as responsible sexually-aware people, to stifle our shyness and talk with our partners about this most basic and universal of sexual behaviours. Urinary continence, prostate health, and lifelong pleasure…it really should be an easy sell, don’t you think?

Masturbation Protects Against Prostate Cancer

For the past few centuries, masturbation has had a bad reputation, first as sin and later as sickness. Even since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, solo sex has been viewed as somehow ‘less’ than partnered sex. It is the butt of bad jokes and rarely discussed as a serious subject.

A new Australian study is putting this traditionalist stance on its head. Now we know that masturbation is not only universally practiced, but it is scientifically linked with improved health for men throughout their lives. No longer can informed mothers chastise their sons for playing with themselves, threatening consequences of bodily ruination. Masturbation actually seems to help prevent one of the most serious threats to male health, prostate cancer.

Boys and men have always masturbated, and will continue to do so. What is newsworthy about this research is that we now can validate that the practice promotes physiological as well as psychological health. Surely in all but the most conservative pockets this news will free males to enjoy the pleasure they find in masturbation as well as in partnered sex.

A snippet from the headlines states that:

“The Cancer Council Victoria in Australia has just announced the results of a study into the relationship between prostate cancer and ejaculation in men. Published in the British Journal of Urology International, the results of the study show there is evidence that the more frequently men ejaculate between the ages of 20 and 50, the less likely they are to develop prostate cancer. The research suggests that the protective effect of ejaculation is greatest when men in their twenties ejaculated on average seven or more times a week. This group were one-third less likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer when compared with men who ejaculated less than three times a week at this age.”

No longer must masturbation be seen as a second class activity. And with the lifting of censorship around self pleasuring will hopefully arrive the acceptance of physical pleasure in many realms. Regular readers will not be surprised to hear me lament our culture’s fear of pleasure. How often do we see people (mostly women) cover their mouths when they laugh, as if to hide from view the ‘slip’ of humour? We shy away from ‘too much’ fun, fearful we will ‘lose control,’ regardless the source of the pleasure. Add our nervousness about things sexual and the stakes get outrageously high.

It is not coincidental that the treatment for premature ejaculation, a major sexual concern for many men, is based upon masturbatory exercises that focus not on the denial of pleasure (if that method worked, there would be no premature ejaculators, for they all try that before seeking the help of sex therapists), but on the recognition of and sensitivity to that very pleasure path. If this study (more will surely follow) helps to encourage parents to educate their sons about the nature and benefits of regular masturbation, adult men will suffer far less with the consequences of rushed self-pleasuring. Of course, their future partners will benefit as well.

This study reinforces what many of us have long suspected: that pleasure, even (or perhaps even especially) sexual pleasure, is good for us, not bad for us.

National Masturbation Day

– Originally published on DrKoop.com

May 7th is National Masturbation Day. Though it’s true that we aren’t granted the Monday off work to observe this holiday, it behooves us to consider the topic and how we relate to it.

What part does masturbation play in our lives? We know that almost all men masturbate with penis traction products and do so from adolescence onward. Dr. Alfred Kinsey, in his groundbreaking research of the fifties, found that sixty-two percent of females masturbated as well, although not as frequently as their male peers. When Shere Hite polled over eighteen hundred women in 1976 for The Hite Report, she found that 82% reported masturbating. As Victorian prohibitions fade into history, we may well find that women’s rates of self-pleasuring reach those of males’.

How do we feel about masturbation? We vary as much in our reactions to the topic of masturbation as we do about anything else sexual, complicated by the added layer of learned shame and secrecy. Unless prohibited, we masturbate throughout our life span. For some, masturbation is a natural part of living, not considered more than any other aspect of body care. For others, it is surrounded with great concern and guilt. For still others, it is celebrated joyously.

Are we comfortable discussing it? And with whom? Few of us would initiate a discussion about masturbation. Even if we do not associate self-pleasuring with guilt or shame, most of us consider it private. Perhaps we speak about it with our lovers, but we rarely address the subject otherwise, except perhaps in jest.

Why would we set aside a day to contemplate and celebrate masturbation anyway? The past few decades have seen a progressive acceptance of sexuality. Though not without controversy, sexual information is now more available than ever. When we break the code of silence around masturbation, we learn that it has no detrimental physical effects, helps to keep our genito-urinary tracts healthy into old age, and teaches us to become and remain responsive sexual partners. Indeed, a number of sexual problems affecting interpersonal relations are resolved with the aid of masturbatory exercises.

The comfort, exhilaration, and release experienced during masturbation affords us a way to feel good about ourselves without relying on another person. It provides us a sense of independence and choice. Also, as we learn our body’s unique response pattern, we can better transmit that information to intimate partners. Surely these are reasons to celebrate!

How best can we celebrate this holiday? National Masturbation Day offers us an opportunity to speak with others about the subject, especially with our children. We can give them accurate information about this secret and taboo topic, letting them know that most (but not all) people touch themselves for pleasure, relieving them of confusion, shame, and embarrassment. We can share with them our personal, family, and cultural beliefs about the activity, and encourage dialogue about this, or any other, sexual issue. We thus make ourselves allies, and if we want our children to make good decisions and enjoy happy lives, this alliance will protect and enhance us all.

This day devoted to pleasure can also encourage us to examine our own personal sexual responses and patterns. Perhaps this is an opportunity to make a date with ourselves, to explore how our bodies and preferences have changed, to indulge in new or favorite fantasies, to pamper ourselves, to luxuriate in delight.

After all, pleasure seems a lovely reason to celebrate.

Madness in the Message

This column is in reaction to my viewing of the Canadian release of Love, Sex, and Eating the Bones.
I was excited about seeing this production, billed as “A guy addicted to porn discovers that love is stronger than fantasy.” Surely it would deliver some hot sex scenes, and I was curious about how the writer/director David Sutherland would address each of these elements (addiction, pornography, love, and fantasy).
The film was visually stunning. Vibrant colours danced with physically beautiful actors. Early scenes of our protagonist in his local video (porn) shop resonate with believable neighbourhood familiarity. When the hero and heroine meet, their chemistry is unmistakeable. Though this new acquaintance looks quite different from the lead’s favourite porn star (who infuses the movie with humour and seduction), he happily adds her to his ‘hot’ list. As their courtship hints at sex, she informs him that she is celibate.
His reaction? A ‘talk’ with his celluloid sweetheart and an inability to achieve an erection when his real-life date lifts the ban. This didn’t surprise me. The get-away-closer message would have been sufficient to wilt the most ardent lover, but the movie interprets his response as his failure to transfer his arousal from masturbation with his fantasy princess to intercourse with his date. Our leading lady is righteously horrified to learn her seemingly ‘normal’ new boyfriend enjoys (echk) porno films, to the point where she calls him names when she discovers that, during a (finally!) successful sexual encounter, he is watching a video over her shoulder. She gives him an ultimatum: it’s her (the porn actress) or me.
Now our hero faces a real dilemma. Without his learned erotic response to viewing porn, he cannot meet his girlfriend’s requirement for him to perform with her on demand. He is able to satisfy her with oral sex in what was probably the most erotic and beautiful scene in the entire movie; nevertheless she insists that only coitus counts as sex and if he can’t deliver the goods on her terms and without his erotic triggers, she will leave him for the lousy lover she labels him to be. The protagonist eventually banishes his on-screen lover by sublimating his erotic attentions to his far-more-highbrow artistic expression of photography and the relationship is saved.
Aside from the main message, I liked this film.
But, oh, what a message. Remember that this was billed as a study in addiction to porn. Addiction? If the protagonist golfed twice a week, would golf be an addiction? Only if we believe that watching people make love/have sex/fuck is bad does such watchful measuring make any sense. The truth is almost all men masturbate, and almost all of them use visual fantasies to fuel their arousal. That’s how the system works. It isn’t bad…it’s the basis of our sexuality.
(By the way, most women masturbate, too, although their relationship with visual fantasy often differs from men’s. Women tend to fantasize romantic and emotional stimulation more intensely than they do visual cues. Perhaps it is because women don’t understand this difference that they distrust it. We’re often down on what we’re not up on.)
In this movie, masturbation is a distant second to partnered sex, with intercourse at the top of the heap in the sexual activity hierarchy. Though the most moving and sensual scene in the film involved our uptight heroine enjoying cunnilingus, she was clear that she wouldn’t be happy until her lover could deliver real sex. It’s this sort of thinking that devastates marriages when a husband undergoes nerve-damaging prostate surgery and believes that, because he no longer achieves erection, that sex between the couple is over. We need to learn that intercourse is but one item on a vast menu of possibilities, all of them fun.
We need to take masturbation off the deadbeat list. It is a lie that masturbation hurts us. Masturbation keeps our genito-urinary system in top running order throughout our lives. It teaches us to be good lovers. It feels consistently good. It is not masturbation but shame that hurts us.
Porn, too, gets an undeservedly bum rap. Some of us like viewing others being sexual; some don’t. It’s really a matter of (personal) taste what gets our mojo going, isn’t it?
Being sex positive means being expansive, embracing all that we can learn and do and be. If we view sex as a positive force in our lives, then we would logically promote incentives to arousal.
The title of the film, Sex, Love, and Eating the Bones, comes from a reference to sucking the marrow out of the bones, the richest and rarest part of the meal. How I wish the story had lived up to this hopeful notion inviting us to suck every morsel of joy from life, to find delight in the smallest wonder, and to indulge our human pleasures graciously and generously.

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