Dear Dr G,
I recently came across your articles online and cannot help but to email my "secret" in the bedroom.
I am 32 years old, and in a happy sexual relationship. I have been on previous relationships and they did not last so long when my girlfriends found out about my dark secret - masturbating.
As most teenagers, I discovered the guilty pleasure of masturbation when I was about 15.
When I was younger, I engaged in such self-indulgence almost on a daily basis. I know it is bad for me, but it became an addiction.
I started dating when I was 21 years old. Despite having a sexual relationship, I still couldn't get rid off such behaviour.
When I "got caught" by my girlfriend, I often felt ashamed of such deplorable habit.
From what I gathered, the desire for masturbation will wean off, as we grow older, especially in a sexually active relationship.
But my obsession for self-indulgence is undiminished. Although most of my peers denied doing it, I know for sure many have been engaging in such a habit, even well into their 40s.
I am desperate and ashamed, as I know masturbation is harmful to me. I really do not want to end my relationship with my girlfriend due to my self- indulgence.
I would like to put Dr G on the spot to unravel the hard facts about masturbation.
What is the right frequency of masturbation at my age?
Is it normal for me to masturbate despite being in a healthy sexual relationship?
What are the harms I am inflicting myself when I masturbate. Is there anything I can do to kick such a habit?
Masturbation is the act of self-stimulation of genitalia for sexual pleasure that may or may not lead to orgasm.
Such act of self-pleasure is common in both sexes and all ages from puberty. The act of stimulation often involves hands and fingers. In some instances, masturbation may also involve sex toys and everyday objects.
Masturbation has been depicted in art and writings since prehistoric times. From the biblical origin, the term onanism was already documented and condemned.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, many famous European theologians and physicians regarded masturbation as "hideous and deplorable".
Since the act of masturbation is deemed spiritually detrimental, this has brought about the sense of guilt well into the 21st century. The normal frequency of masturbation is a subject of intense scrutiny.
Needless to say, the frequency is determined by many factors including the level of sex hormones, peer influences, cultural and spiritual attitude. Such factors will generate some degree of self-control and resistance to sexual tension.
In the 1950s, the famous American sexologist Alfred Kinsey reported that 92% of men and 62% of women have masturbated during their lifespan.
One would imagine with the diminished sexual taboo, the statistic would differ in modern days.
The British National Probability Survey in 2007 revealed similar data. In individuals aged 16 to 44, 95% of men and 71% of women masturbated at some point in their lives.
The guilty pleasure of masturbation is associated with various unfounded
adversities. The bizarre ones include blindness, hairy palm, penile shrinkage and curvature.
Others include the fear of infertility, sexual dysfunction and physical weakness.
According to popular belief, individuals of either sex who are not in a sexually active relationship tend to masturbate more frequently than those who are. Some may even worry their relationship is unsatisfying if either one masturbates.
Contrary to such belief, studies showed a positive correlation between frequency of masturbation and frequency of intercourse.
One study highlighted that about 70% of married men and women masturbate either alone or together in a relationship, and found it enjoyable.
One study even found that individuals who masturbated had happier marriages compared with whose who do not. In the medical viewpoint, masturbation is harmless.
Apart from tender swollen skin from "rough" action that may lead to slight decrease in penile sensation, there should be minimal long-term side effects of excessive masturbation, even well into the adulthood. So go easy boys!
Brene Brown, the author of New York Times bestseller The Gift of Imperfection once said: "Guilt is just as powerful, but its influence is positive.
Dr G's view is: "Guilt in sexual pleasure is powerful, as the influence guides us to moderation. While shame in sex is destructive, shame on this natural act of love can erode our self-courage and fuels disengagement in relationships."
Dr George Lee is a consultant Urologist and Clinical Associate Professor whose professional interest is in men’s health. The column “Ask Dr G” is a forum to help men debunk the myths and taboos on men’s issues that may be too “hard” to mention. You can send him questions at firstname.lastname@example.org