We’ve got plenty of hilarious euphemisms for it — from “fluffin’ the muffin” to “wiggling the walrus.” Whatever you like to call masturbation, the majority of us have participated in a solo session at least once — or, more likely, on a regular basis.
Even though self-pleasure is a common, completely normal part of life, you may be wondering if it’s possible to get overly acquainted with your privates. We’ve got the answer to this stimulating question.
Turns out it’s tough to go overboard. “There’s no downside to masturbation,” says Leah Millheiser, M.D., director of the Female Sexual Medicine Program at Stanford Health Care. In general, masturbation is not only harmless but healthy.
You might masturbate daily, monthly, or once in a blue moon — whenever the urge to tickle the pickle or twang your thang strikes. “For some, zero times is normal. It doesn’t mean anything or that you’re more or less sexual,” Millheiser adds.
Self-pleasure can be a wonderful form of self-care, unless your friction frequency starts to interfere with your ability to function in everyday life.
For example, it can become an issue if you’re showing up to work late because of it, said the late Kat Van Kirk, Ph.D., sex and marriage therapist and author of The Married Sex Solution.
“Some people use masturbation as a way to check out of reality,” she said. And in some cases, that can lead to disconnecting emotionally or sensually when it comes to a partner.
If any of these things ring true, you can consult a therapist to uncover the reason behind chronic or compulsive masturbating.
One potential concern Van Kirk noted from her clinical experience: “If you are masturbating the same way every time, it can condition you to only become aroused or orgasm in one specific way, which can lead to difficulties when having partnered sex.”
So, try to switch it up now and then. And of course you can always teach a willing co-pilot to flick or flog you in the ways you like.
Whether for solo or partner stimulation, people are spending their cash on sex toys to help get all that friction on. According to a sex toy company that conducted a global “Sex Toy Census” in 2017, the pleasure product market reaches an estimated $15 billion annually.
If you’re one of the many people who love their vibrators, maybe you’ve wondered about nerve damage. You can rest assured that’s a myth.
“If you’re using one for over an hour nonstop, you might get temporary numbness or desensitization,” Millheiser says. “This isn’t going to make you lose feeling all together.” And the loss of feeling won’t last.
Don’t worry: Any personal gliding or grinding, with or without a toy, won’t wreak havoc on your sex drive. Instead it can keep you primed and in practice for playtime with your partner.
“Masturbation can be really helpful,” Millheiser says. “If you can’t tell or don’t know where your erogenous zones are — they could be clitoral, vaginal, or anal — then you can’t voice that and explain it to your partner.”
Other possible benefits of masturbation:
1. Sexual empowerment
Gaining that knowledge through experimentation also helps boost confidence in the bedroom. One study shows that masturbation can be sexually empowering for women.
2. Improves muscle tone in your nether regions
Healthy strokes serve as a workout for your private parts. Masturbation can even strengthen muscle tone in the pelvic and anal regions, according to Planned Parenthood.
3. Menstrual cramp/pain relief
Throwing a party for one may even help relieve menstrual cramps. “It causes contractions of the uterus, which seems counterintuitive, but it’s an analgesic in a sense,” Millheiser says.
Orgasm releases hormones like oxytocin, which acts as pain-reliever, according to a review article written in 2011.
4. Relaxation and stress relief
In a “Self-Pleasure Report,” published in 2019 by a company that makes sex toys, survey results reveal that, for many people, masturbation brings on relaxation through stress relief.
5. Reduction in prostate cancer risk
Lastly, although more research is needed, a review of existing studies shows that ejaculation through masturbation is linked to a potential reduction in prostate cancer risk.
According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior — the largest survey of its kind — more than 94 percent of men ages 25 to 29 reported masturbating at some point in their lives, while more than 84 percent of women in the same age group did.
In other words, we’re pretty much all diddling ourselves. And in general, you need not be concerned with wanking or clicking it too much. The most common risk that comes with a lot of masturbating? Some chafing — ouch — which is easily remedied with a little lube.