I masturbate every single day. I used to think this was completely normal, but after talking to my friends, it seems that I do it a lot more than others. I feel really embarrassed now. Is it dangerous to masturbate this frequently? Is there something terribly wrong with me? Please help!
Dear Mr. Bates,
Rest assured, masturbation — the sexual stimulation of one’s own genitals — is a completely healthy and normal sexual activity. Unfortunately, society tends to treat the topic as a social taboo, making it unacceptable to discuss. Because of this, people often experience feelings of shame or embarrassment when their masturbation is brought to a public light.
Just as people have different food or movie preferences, people also have different preferences for how often they masturbate. Just because your friends report masturbating less frequently than you do does not mean that there is anything inherently wrong with your activities. Both men and women can find masturbation pleasurable, and it is a great way to explore and learn about your own body. Understanding your body’s likes and dislikes will improve all your sexual experiences — by yourself and with others.
Since masturbation is a solo act, there are no risks of becoming pregnant or contracting STIs. However, if you are using toys or objects while masturbating, be sure to clean them properly (wash with a gentle anti-bacterial soap and warm water) before and after use. And never transfer your sex toys from anus to vagina or penis without thoroughly cleaning them first. If you have an active infection (HPV, which can cause genital warts, or herpes lesions on the genitals) you may want to avoid touching lesions until they’ve healed. If you do come into contact with any sores, wash your hands thoroughly. However, if you have a wart on your hand, you don’t need to worry about passing it to your genitals; genital warts are generally caused by different strains of HPV than warts on other parts of your body.
There do exist some prevalent notions that masturbating too frequently can affect things such as fertility, sexual ability and general health. Fortunately, these are all myths. However, just like any activity, it is possible to masturbate to excess. If you find yourself masturbating to the point where it’s interfering with the rest of your life — skipping classes to masturbate, for example — then you may be masturbating too much. In the event that this is the case, there are confidential counselors available in the McCosh Health Center who will be able to help you with your concerns.
I hope this overview of masturbation was helpful in quelling your fears. In short, masturbation is a healthy and safe way to enjoy sexual pleasure. Unless it’s interfering with your daily life, keep doing what feels good!