Sexual Wellness Resource Center
For Adults over 50.

Masturbation, facts, not myths

Masturbation
By Michael Bates, M.D.

Masturbation is touching one’s body, including the sexual organs, to experience pleasure. For many, masturbation is a taboo subject. There are many harmful myths, social and religious, that cause discomfort and guilt. Let’s get the facts right. Masturbation is a normal, natural, and healthy activity of women and men. Physicians have been reassuring patients about this for years, giving them permission to masturbate.

How common is masturbation?  The reported numbers vary all over the scale, depending upon sex, age, how questions are asked in surveys, and how secure respondents are about confidentiality. Suffice it to say at least 50% of women and 70% of men admit to masturbation, so the numbers are likely higher.

Why do people masturbate? The most common reasons given:

  • relief of sexual tension
  • achieve sexual pleasure
  • lack of partner
  • relaxation  

Are there risks to masturbation?  No.  

What are the benefits of masturbation?

  • Relief of sexual tension if there is no partner, or if the partner has withdrawn from  sexual intimacy(perhaps because erectile dysfunction)
  • Mood elevation by releasing endorphins, the “feel good” hormones of exercise
  • Relief of insomnia, masturbation is a natural sleep sedative, it helps one fall asleep
  • Pelvic floor muscle strengthening  to prevent or to treat pelvic floor  relaxation symptoms
  • Stress reduction

The take home message? Mastubation is a normal, natural, and healthy activity for adults of all ages.

About the Author

Michael Bates, M.D.

Dr Bates practiced obstetrics and gynecology for 34 years in Wichita, Kansas, until his retirement in 2011.

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