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Myths about Masturbation

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The history of masturbation contains many bizarre and hard to belief moments of misinformation. Whether it causes blindness, insanity, acne, or hair growth, masturbation has been both the most reviled and most commonly practiced sexual behavior on the planet. To this day many of us are raised believing certain myths about masturbation. If you’re still trying to separate fact and fiction consider these common myths and the facts that debunk them.

Masturbation Is For the Young

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In fact, masturbation is a life long sexual activity. Surveys regularly show that anywhere from 70 to 95% of adult men and women masturbate. And while this may slow down as we age, many of us continue masturbating into our golden years. One survey of 800 adults over 60 found that that 46% of them masturbated, another found that 20% of seniors masturbated once a week or more. Masturbation isn’t just for the young, nor is it an “immature” form of sexual behavior.

Masturbation Isn't "Real Sex"

Masturbation is real sex. When you masturbate you can get really aroused, which can result in very real orgasms. In North America, we put values on different sexual behaviors, but this has no basis in science. From a health perspective, masturbation is as “real” a sexual behavior as intercourse, oral sex, or kissing. And research shows that people in relationships masturbate, which contradicts the myth that masturbation is only for loners.

Masturbation Is Bad For Your Health

This myth originated with an anti-masturbation tract that was written in 1712 as a way to sell a bogus “tonic” that was supposed to stop the disease of “self-pollution”. Through the years there have been many colorful attempts to pathologize masturbation. They say it will make you go blind, it will give you acne, and it will grow hair on your palms. All claims that have been refuted by science. Today virtually all physicians and scholars agree that masturbation is harmless.

Men Have to Masturbate, Women Don't

While most statistics show that men do masturbate more than women, there is no evidence to suggest this is due to some biological “need” on the part of men to masturbate. What is true is that social attitudes toward female masturbation are much more negative, and this likely impacts both women’s early masturbation and their willingness to report masturbating in a survey. There is no research to suggest that the desire to masturbate is tied to biological sex or even gender.

People In Relationships Don't Masturbate

This common myth often drives people in relationships to masturbate in private hiding it from their partners. Survey research shows that people of all ages masturbate when they are in relationships. Kinsey’s survey found that almost 40% of men and 30% of women in relationships masturbated. A study of Playboy readers found that 72% of married men masturbated, and a study of Redbook readers found that 68% of married women masturbated.

Too Much Masturbation Is Bad For You

With very rare exceptions, frequent masturbation is not harmful. If an individual is compulsively masturbating or is unable to engage in any sexual behavior other than masturbation (and would like to), it is possible that there may be reason to consult a mental health professional. But masturbating, whether it is once a month, or three times a day, if it is part of a balanced sexual and social life, poses no specific risks.

Only Certain Kinds of People Masturbate

Survey research debunks this myth that only certain people masturbate. Whether you are 19 or 99, religious and conservative or secular and liberal, whether you are a parent, grandparent, uncle or aunt, whether you get around on your own two legs or use a wheelchair, scooter, crutches, or roller-skates to get around, almost everyone has masturbated at some point in their lives, and most of us continue to do so.
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