“Dr. P, Is masturbation ever harmful?”
Last column discounted the myths of harm from autoeroticism and listed damage done by anti-masturbatory thinking. Today, we turn to what science says about the likely benefits of autoeroticism. We do not address the religious-moral perspectives on the topic, which vary from very negative to permissive. So, as Elizabeth Barrett Browning almost said, “How do I love me? Let me count the ways.” Long-term health benefits: To avoid any type of (solo) erotosexual activity until marriage is akin to an athlete going about in a wheel chair to save his legs for the “big race.” Disuse of any organ system leads to pathology and atrophy. The British Journal of Urology in July, 2003 published a study of 2,338 Australian men, of whom 1,079 had prostate cancer. “What we found was men who ejaculated most (more than five times a week) in their 20s, 30s and 40s had about a third less prostate cancer risk than men in the lowest category of ejaculation.” The benefit was only from autoerotic ejaculation. The men who had sex with many women did not have a lower risk for prostate cancer. Enhancement of coupled relationships: Woody Allen in his film Love and War is asked by the Countess after lovemaking, “Boris! How did you get to be such a great lover?” He responds, “Well, I practice a lot when I’m alone.” Autoeroticism is beneficial in that you can learn how you responds to your own touch, pressure and rhythm so that you later can teach your partner what pleases you.Â When a partner is told or shown what pleases the other, the love-bonding is enhanced by the self-disclosing communication and increased pleasure and intimacy. Sex Therapy for common sexual dysfunctions: Women often are unfulfilled by their partner’s too quick response. The average coitus lasts six to seven minutes. For the 66% of young American females who complain that they rarely, if ever, attain orgasm from coitus, there is a common factor: a history of scant or absent masturbation. The quick-trigger males share a history of guilt-laden and hurried masturbation. Ironically, the current therapy for premature ejaculation in males and for preorgasmic females is training in autoeroticism. Persons become responsible for their own sexual response and orgasm in partnered sex by learning effective stimulation, response and control in autoeroticism. Preservation of monogamous bonds: If a partner is ill or indisposed, autoeroticism relaxes and keeps the other from straying. While separated or travelling, autoeroticism, sometimes conducted simultaneously over the phone or web, can keep the sexual expression mutual and monogamous. Keeping teen libidos safely expressed: Autoeroticism is an alternative for more risky coitus in teen relationships. “Outercourse” is advised to youth, whose hormonal sex drives are tidal, in place of intercourse. With auto- and mutual eroticism, there is no risk of disease or pregnancy, yet they can share a degree of physical release and intimacy. Relief of menstrual pain and discomfort: Helen Hyde and John DeLamater (2000) state in their text that an orgasm from autoeroticism (or coitus) was effective in providing relief from the discomfort of menstrual cramps. Additionally, the uterine spasms produced by orgasms briefly increased the rate of flow but overall shortened the total duration of the period. Relief of pain in labor and delivery: An odd application of autoeroticism is in the relief of discomfort and augmentation of labor in childbirth. Although many midwives know this, and web sites exist advocating this procedure, it is not well known that birthing need not result in pain but rather can be erotic and orgasmic. Mainline American medicine is not yet ready to investigate the applicability of autoeroticism or sexual stimulation to obstetrics. As a relaxant and soporific: As an insomnia cure or soporific, an orgasm through autoeroticism does the job. The “rolling over and going to sleep” phenomenon can be useful when you actually want to go to sleep and can’t. Autoeroticism is cheaper, healthier, and safer than barbiturates or sleeping pills, with no side effects or addictive dangers. What is too much autoeroticism? Masturbation cannot become addictive, since it is a normal physiological function. One simply gets sore or tired. What is too much? It is when someone misses class, work, or other appointments, or if they fail to interact with people or significant others because of a preference for autoeroticism. In these cases, it is not the sexual activity that is impaired or impairing. There you are. You now have the evidence to make an informed decision and take matters into your own hands. So, soft music, wine, a nice handle-light dinner forone, and whatever . . .